ESPNdeportes.com columnist Enrique Rojas, citing “a source close to Cuban baseball authorities” reports this week that Cuban government officials are “studying” the possibility of allowing Cuban players to sign as free agents with MLB teams.
The deals, which would be overseen by the Cuban government, would apply to players who have played for eight years or more in the country’s professional league.
If Cuba does decide to allow players to freely leave for MLB, there would be conditions.
According to plan the most progressive sector of the Cuban sports leaders - which is the least popular and powerful within the ruling class - a player eligible for free agency must accept three conditions to sign a contract binding: Availability for the choices national representation “Cuba Travel” with international organizations and 40 per cent of their wages to the Cuban state.
The Cuban government demanding 40 percent of Cuban MLB player earnings in such a scenario probably wouldn’t fly thanks to the longstanding and wide-ranging embargo enacted by the U.S. on Cuba.
To illustrate that point, Rojas points out that when Cuba participated in the World Baseball Classic in the United States, its players and team were not allowed to keep prize money from the event.
So why would Cuba suddenly allow players to leave the island of their own free will for MLB ? Rojas doesn’t make that clear, but perhaps we got a clue two weeks ago when Cuban leader and baseball aficionado Fidel Castro admitted that “communism has failed Cuba.”
The WALL STREET JOURNAL also recently noted that Cuba is apparently hinting at economic reform in an attempt to get the U.S. to, at the very least, drop its travel ban to its country.
I’d love nothing better than to see more Cuban MLB players - and have the chance myself to travel to Havana.
So long as the Castro brothers or their corrupt ensigns aren’t around to benefit from that, I’m all for it.