MLB star Yasiel Puig becomes US citizen
Cleveland Indians outfielder Yasiel Puig, who defected from Cuba in 2012 before making his Major League Baseball debut, officially became a U.S. citizen on Wednesday.
Puig, who has played for multiple clubs since making his debut in 2013, made the announcement on social media.
“Thank you God for this great opportunity to be an American citizen,” Puig tweeted along with a photo showing him wearing a suit and tie and holding a miniature American flag.
Thank you God for this great opportunity to be an American citizen pic.twitter.com/346P6g89LX
— Yasiel Puig (@YasielPuig) August 14, 2019
Puig tried and failed to defect from Cuba several times before successfully reaching Mexico in 2012. The 28-year-old, who had been a standout on the Cuban national team, was transported to the country that year by a smuggling-and-boat-theft ring with links to the Mexican cartel Los Zetas, ESPN reported.
The network noted that Puig first arrived in Mexico because he would have been subject to the MLB draft had he gone straight to the U.S. He reportedly established residency in Mexico, where he was able to negotiate a free-agent contract with professional franchises.
He signed a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 and made his MLB debut the following spring. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds last year, before joining the Indians in July.
Puig became the fourth member of the Indians organization to earn U.S. citizenship this season, ESPN noted. Carlos Santana, Hanley Ramirez and Oliver Perez all became citizens earlier this year.
Puig has batted .277 and hit 131 home runs and 398 RBIs over seven seasons.