Cuban major league players dip slightly on opening day despite high-profile signings

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NEW YORK — Despite high-profile signings during the offseason, there was one fewer Cuban-born player on opening-day rosters this year than in 2014.

There were 18 Cubans on major league rosters Sunday, according to the commissioner's office. The Cuban players who signed the most-lucrative contracts both began the season in the minors: Boston outfielder Rusney Castillo ($72.5 million for seven years) was sent to Pawtucket and Arizona outfielder Yasmany Tomas ($68.5 million for six seasons) to Reno.

Major League Baseball said 230 of 868 players on opening-day rosters, disabled lists and the restricted list were born outside the 50 states, with the percentage rising to 26.5 from 26.3 percent. Players were born in 17 countries and territories outside the 50 states, the most since 2001 and one short of the record set in 1998.

The Dominican Republic has topped the list each year since MLB began tracking the numbers in 2005. There are 83 Dominican players, one more than last year but down from a high of 99 in 2007. Every team except Washington had a Dominican-born player on its opening-day roster.

Venezuela was next with 65, six more than last year. Puerto Rico had 13, followed by Canada, Japan and Mexico (nine), Colombia, Curacao and Panama (four), South Korea (three), Australia, Brazil, Nicaragua (two); and Aruba, Netherlands and Taiwan (one).

Kansas City outfielder Paulo Orlando became the second Brazilian on an opening-day roster following Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes last year.

Texas has the most players born outside the 50 states with 15, trailed by Toronto (12), and Boston and Detroit (11 each).

Oakland had the fewest with two: Dominican pitcher Fernando Abad and Canadian third baseman Brett Lawrie.

Figures include active rosters, 115 players on disabled lists and three on the restricted list serving drug suspensions.

The percentage of foreign-born minor league players was 48.8, up from 47.8 last year.

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