Eleven-year MLB veteran Eric Sogard has received Czech citizenship, paving the way for the journeyman infielder to represent the country’s national team at this year’s World Baseball Classic qualifiers in Regensburg, Germany, and the 2023 European Championship, which will be played in the Czech Republic.
Sogard, who is currently a free agent after playing for the Chicago Cubs in 2021, has appeared in a total of 815 MLB contests for six teams over his eleven years in the Majors, with a .246/.313/.338 slash line to his name in just over 2,200 career at-bats.
In a breakout 2019 campaign that saw him play strongly for the Toronto Blue Jays before a trade to the playoff-bound Tampa Bay Rays, Sogard produced 3 WAR as he slashed .290/.353/.457 and recorded an OPS+ of 116, all while playing solid defense across multiple positions.
He has played another 613 games in the Minors, with half of them in parts of seven seasons at the Triple-A level.
“No single reinforcement will win us a medal at the European Championship, but Eric can help us significantly, both on and off the field,“ said Czech manager Pavel Chadim, who was present to witness Sogard finalize the necessary paperwork. He also presented the national team’s newest addition with a jersey and cap.
“The goal, of course, is the European Championship on home soil in 2023. If his MLB duties don’t prevent him from taking part, fans can look forward to seeing him in Regensburg,” Chadim added.
Sogard’s mother was born and lived just outside of Prague until 1968, when, at the age of 12, she emigrated with her parents to the United States to escape the Soviet occupation that ended the Prague Spring movement