MLB and Cuba reach agreement for players to sign more safely

Tanya Simon
December 22, 2018

The mininum salary for players in Cuba is $50 per month, so the payoff was huge for the stars.

Yesterday, MLB, MLBPA, and Cuban Baseball Federation jointly announced that they agreed on a posting system of sorts for Cuban players through 2021, one that has previously only been used in East Asia. Under the new agreement, teams signing those qualifying Cuban professionals would have to pay a release fee to the players' Cuban team, similar to the fee-structures governing MLB's agreements with the Korean and Japanese professional leagues. Other players will have to seek permission first.

Major league teams would pay a release fee on top of the money owed a player.

White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, in 2013, is an example of an older professional who came to the a free agent.

A State Department official told NPR in an emailed statement that the agency is aware of the agreement and that baseball players will still have to go to another country to apply for a work visa, in accordance with USA policy.

The deal would be a big step toward ending the trafficking of players by smugglers - which led to players being kidnapped, threatened and extorted. "To this date, I am still harassed". Players who are 25 or older and have at least six years of professional experience would be automatically released.

"Knowing that the next generation of Cuban baseball players will not endure the unimaginable fate of past Cuban players is the realization of an impossible dream for all of us", Abreu said in a statement. "I want to thank everyone who was involved in making this happen and thank them personally for allowing an opportunity for Cuban baseball players to have the ability to come and show how talented they are".

Yahoo Sports reports that a deal between the MLB and the Cuban Baseball Federation is imminent after more than two years of negotiations. Within those agreements, foreign clubs post contracted players for compensation to have them legally leave on work visas, with a portion of the new contract going to the players' former teams.

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He provided insight into what life as a Cuban MLB player has been like.

Players who defected had to wait eight years before they could return to Cuba for a visit and gave up any hope of playing for Cuba's national team.

The deal will ensure Cuban talent take their place alongside the world's finest on baseball's biggest global stage.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement on Wednesday that MLB "has been seeking to end the trafficking of baseball players from Cuba by criminal organisations" for years, the Associated Press reported.

"We have to see how it works, but it should be great for the players", said former big league pitcher Livan Hernandez, who defected to the 1995 and pitched in the majors from 1996-2012. The athlete will be able to sign with a club while in Cuba, apply to the US for a work visa and return to his homeland during the offseason.

The Cuban announcement of the deal said it would allow for the return of Cubans who "migrated to third countries with the objective of trying to reach the major leagues and that for several reasons haven't achieved it, saying "they will be able to be reinserted in the Cuban national competitive system". Like all agreements, it does not imply a retroactive recognition of prior circumstances".

In a statement, she described the long, shared history of baseball between the US and Cuba, from Jackie Robinson training in 1940s Havana to a 2016 game between Cuba's national team and Florida's Tampa Bay Rays, with then-Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro in attendance.

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