‘Wild Horse’ Yasiel Puig (33), who left Korea after being caught in perjury charges related to illegal gambling, was not even on the preliminary list for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) of the Cuban baseball team.
The Cuban baseball team, led by coach Armando Johnson, announced the 50-member preliminary list for the 2023 WBC on the 7th 메이저놀이터 (hereinafter Korean time). Each position consists of 25 pitchers, 5 catchers, 12 infielders and 8 outfielders.
The Cuban Baseball Federation issued a statement on the 25th of last month and announced that Cuban baseball players who had defected to the United States were permitted by the U.S. government to compete in the WBC. Due to diplomatic problems with the United States, Cuban players used to leave their home country and go to the major leagues in exile in the United States. However, with the signing of a new agreement this time, a large number of big leaguers joined the WBC as Cubans. Including two active players included in the 40-man roster, players with experience in the big leagues were included.
Chicago White Sox starting third baseman Yoan Moncada and center fielder Luis Roberts, in addition to two active big leaguers, pitchers Ronald Bolanos, Yoan Lopez, Roennis Elias, Onelki Garcia, infielders Andy Ibanez, Erisbel Aruebarena, and outfielder Yoenis Cespe. Several big leaguers, including Death, were named to the reserve list.
But another Cuban outfielder, Puig, was missing. Puig, who played 7 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Guardians from 2013 to 2019, played 126 games with Kiwoom Heroes in the KBO League last year, batting average of 27.7, 131 hits, 21 homers, 73 RBIs, OPS .841. He contributed to Kiwoom’s runner-up in the Korean Series.
However, after the season, it was revealed that he had illegally gambled in the past. Since May 2019, when he was a member of the Cincinnati Reds, it has been revealed that he has been illegally gambling on sports other than baseball. In January of last year, while under investigation by U.S. federal investigators, they agreed to pay a fine of $55,000 for perjury, but when the case surfaced, they withdrew the agreement and claimed innocence.
Puig, who took legal action through a lawyer, said, “I am not guilty. I just want to play baseball,” he said, regretting it. After the renewal of the contract with Kiwoom collapsed, he appeared at the Major League Winter Meeting last month and started job hunting, but he has not yet found a team amidst controversy over his personal life. For Puig, a lost free agent, the WBC is a good opportunity to prove his skills, but he is not on the reserve list. The WBC final entry submission deadline is the 7th of next month. Without a dramatic turn of events, Puig is unlikely to be seen in the WBC.
Meanwhile, Cuba is in Group A of the WBC with Chinese Taipei, Netherlands, Italy and Panama. If they pass the first or second place in the group stage in Taichung, Taiwan, there is a possibility of facing Korea in the quarterfinal tournament held at Tokyo Dome in Japan.