MLB, Cuban Baseball Federation Reach Monumental Agreement

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The president of the Cuban Baseball Federation, Higinio Velez, speaks during a press conference in Havana, on December 19, 2018. - Cuban baseball players can be hired freely by the teams of US Major League Baseball (MLB) in a historic agreement signed with the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB), despite the blockade applied by Washington against the island. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

In a groundbreaking move Wednesday, Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association, and the Cuban Baseball Federation reached an agreement to provide a safe and legal path for Cuban players to come to Major League Baseball. Prior to the agreement, stories of Cuban’s reaching MLB involved various treacherous tales. One of the most notable stories revolved around Yasiel Puig‘s escape and journey from Cuba before signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Scott Eden with ESPN shared Puig’s eventful story.)

MLB, Cuban Baseball Federation Reach Monumental Agreement

According to MLB.com’s announcement, this agreement came about after years of various negotiations. The focus of the agreement is to eliminate the “dangerous” human trafficking of Cuban baseball players off the island and into the United States. The FCB joins Nippon Professional Baseball, the Korea Baseball Organization, and the Chinese Professional Baseball League, each of which has a similar agreement in place with MLB.

Here are the main details of the agreement:

Under this agreement, the FCB must release all players under contract to the FCB who are at least twenty-five (25) years old and have six (6) or more years of playing experience (known as “Foreign Professionals” under MLB rules) to sign with MLB Clubs. The FCB may also release younger players to sign with Major League Clubs. Once a player is released by the FCB, he is free to negotiate and sign with any Major League Club without leaving Cuba, subject to the same collectively bargained rules applicable to all international players. A Major League Club that signs a player released by the FCB pursuant to this agreement will pay the FCB a “release fee,” the amount of which is calculated using the same formula contained in MLB’s protocol agreements with the NPB, KBO and CPBL.

It is worth noting that the agreement is set to expire on Oct. 31, 2021. However, it may be extended via a mutual agreement. (Be sure to read the full announcement with the complete agreement details here.)

Impact

The importance of this agreement cannot be overstated. Puig’s story may be the most high-profile one in recent memory, but it is hardly a one-off. Numerous Cuban players took a life-threatening risk in attempting to come to MLB. This agreement is a huge step towards eliminating those unnecessary risks.

MLB shared the thoughts of a few notable Cuban players via Twitter, and each one expressed immense happiness at the news:

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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