Baseball transcends the reaches of Major League Baseball, and it goes far beyond the reaches of the United States. Truly, and maybe more so than any other sport, baseball is a global game, with a global talent pool. One of the largest talent pools filling into Major League Baseball comes from the country of Cuba, and with a new development, the barriers of entry may get much more manageable.
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As it stands now, stories of Cuban defectors are almost comparable to those of the horror movies we see play out on the big screen. Escaping the island nation by boat under the cover of darkness, only to reach another country in hopes of being able to realize the dream of playing baseball at the ultimate level. Thanks to a new initiative by the United States government however, that practice may change.
According to ABC 7 News out of Washington, DC, the United States is beginning negotiations with Cuba to end the embargo placed on the country.
Currently, trade between Cuba and the United States is restricted. Cuban cigars are not legally allowed into the country, and travel between the two is something that is more than ill-advised. I don’t plan to be any sort of political scholar, and the advanced implications of such an agreement are more than over my head, but this could change the landscape in regards to the way baseball talent from the country is acquired.
As it stands now, Major League Baseball requires Cuban citizens to establish citizenship in another country prior to applying for a visa allowing them to enter the United States. Upon entering that country, players typically team up with agents to showcase their talents to scouts from MLB teams, and then a free agency style of contract negotiation takes place.
Under the new situation that the United States and Cuba could find themselves in, players from the country could see rules much more like those of players from both Korea and Japan. In those instances, a posting fee is paid to the team a player is currently on, and the MLB team supplying the accepted posting fee then has a set amount of time to negotiate a contract with the player. Posting fees can be rejected by the current club however, and that could be a stumbling block for allowing players to leave their Cuban organizations.
Considering the timeline of the situation, all of this is extremely hypothetical, and likely something that remains well down the line. However, it is interesting to think about when considering the gravity of the situation, and the ramifications that could take place in succession to a longstanding broken relationship being somewhat healed.