Outfielder Roel Santos of Cuba hits a two-run triple to make it 0-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning during the World Baseball Classic Pool B Game Two between China and Cuba at Tokyo Dome on March 8, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Cuban outfielder Roel Santos will play for Estrellas Orientales in the 2023-24 Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana regular season, Yusseff Diaz of Pelota Cubana reported on Monday.
Santos was originally going to play for Naranjeros de Hermosillo for the upcoming winter league season, but the Federacion Cubana de Beisbol negotiates contracts for players from Cuba and who still reside there to play outside of the country in other international professional leagues, and got him an offer from the Estrellas.
World Baseball Network spoke with Santos through WhatsApp on Monday and he discussed the negotiations with the FCB that benefited him playing with Estrellas Orientalles this upcoming winter league season.
“Estrellas communicated with the Federation and respectively with me and from there the contract came out,” Santos told World Baseball Network via WhatsApp. His quote was translated from Spanish to English.
Santos is the only player from Cuba playing in the Dominican Republic that is under contract with the FCB for this winter league season.
Santos will also be managed by Fernando Tatis Sr. this season. Other players that are listed on the active roster for the Estrellas Orientales that are from Cuba include Yasiel Puig, Dairon Blanco, and Jose Barreo.
“It’s a pleasure to be coached by Fernando Tatis Sr.,” Santos rold World Baseball Network. “I feel good knowing that there will be more Cubans in the team and with potential like Puig and as well as Dairon Blanco. José Barrero has never had the opportunity to see him personally, only in some videos that he uploaded on social media pages when he played in Serie Nacional.”
Santos played for the Olmecas de Tabasco in the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol for a third season in the 2023 and was selected to the All-Star Game. He played in 63 games, batting .310 across 285 plate appearances with 78 hits, 16 doubles, four triples, four home runs, 30 RBI, eight stolen bases, 27 walks, 36 strikeouts and a .834 OPS.
Santos was selected to the 53-man preselection roster for the 2023 Pan American Games after helping Cuba earn silver at the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games. After the gold medal game was rained out, Mexico earned the gold due to having a better overall record than all of the participating countries at the event.
“One of the reasons for not returning with the Naranjeros was to participate in the Pan American Games. It is an organization in which I have to thank them very much because the truth is that their treatment of me has been very special. I always wanted to be champions with them, I wish them all the success in this season,” Santos told World Baseball Network.
Santos will have to be granted permission from Estrellas Orientales to participate in the 2023 Pan American Games, which would be his sixth international senior event suiting up for if he is selected on the official roster.
Santos played in seven games at the 2023 Central American Games, hitting .375 in 16 at-bats, scoring seven runs, recorded six hits, three doubles, two home runs, eight RBI, four walks, and striking out three times in the tournament.
Cuba is ranked No. 8 in the World Baseball Rankings and will appear in the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile aiming for their 13th gold medal at the event.
The Pan American Games will have a total of eight nations in the baseball event, including No. 3 Mexico, No. 6 Venezuela, No. 10 Dominican Republic, No. 11 Panama, No. 16 Colombia, No. 24 Brazil, and host nation Chile, which is not ranked in the World Baseball Rankings. Chile has not been ranked in two consecutive World Baseball Ranking cycles, including the rankings released on December 31, 2022 and March 28, 2023, after the World Baseball Classic. The Pan American Games baseball tournament will be held from October 18 to October 28 at the Baseball and Softball Center in Cerrillos, Chile.
Back in March, Santos played for the Cuban national team during the 2023 World Baseball Classic suiting up in six games batting .368 in 19 at-bats recording seven hits, two RBI, four walks, and one strikeout helping Cuba reach the semifinals in Miami at loanDepot Park where they lost to the United States 14-2.
Last winter league season, Santos played in 58 games with 267 plate appearances batting .303 recording 72 hits, 10 doubles, six triples, two home runs, 18 RBI, 15 stolen bases, 20 walks, and 38 strikeouts alongside a .782 OPS.
Santos has played 15 seasons in the foreign professional leagues from Serie Nacional spending most of his seasons with Alazanes de Granma, 2017 with the Chiba Lotte Marines in Nippon Professional Baseball, the 2020-21 season with Tigres de Aragua in Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional, and Mayos de Navojoa in 2021-22 season in Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico.