The Cuban government's futile attempt to erase defecting ballplayers from history

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Missed this one the other day, but the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Kat O’Brien reports on the efforts the Cuban government takes to erase from history those ballplayers who defect to the U.S.:

Another taxi driver, Jose, said: “When the players go, then we don’t
have any more news about them.” A waiter at the upscale Havana
restaurant La Piazza, whose walls are covered in baseball memorabilia,
said the restaurant has pictures only of Cuban players who did not
defect. In a low voice, he said there used to be a picture of Orlando
“El Duque” Hernandez, but it was taken down after a government official
grew upset.

In the eyes of Cuban government officials and police,
any player who defects is to be erased from memory.

Fellini once said that censorship is advertising paid for by the government. The people are not idiots. They won’t forget about El Duque and Aroldis Chapman simply because the government bans their visages from public. Quite the opposite, actually. By trying to erase evidence of their existence Mr. Castro and Co. only make bigger legends out of them in the minds of the people and render ridiculous whatever shreds of credibility the regime may retain by accident or otherwise.

BREAKING: Manny Machado to sign with the Padres: 10 years, $300 million

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Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that Manny Machado has a deal with the San Diego Padres. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the deal is for ten years and $300 million with an opt-out after year five.

At the moment there is some disagreement as to how “done” this deal is, with Padres chairman Ron Fowler saying “We do not have a deal. We are continuing discussions.” Ken Rosenthal, however, says that’s “semantics” and that the financial terms are in place, with the deal requiring over some final touches on language and Machado’s physical, which will likely be a formality.

The Padres were a late entrant into the Machado sweepstakes, but they reportedly met with Machado last week. The club has obviously not won for a long time, but they have a strong farm system. While that usually mitigates against a big free agent signing, Machado’s age — 26 — means that he’s still likely to be a productive player when that core of prospects is mature. And if it doesn’t develop, hey, he’s made some serious bank and can still opt-out at an age when he might get another decent paycheck.

For the Padres, Machado represents the biggest single investment in a player in club history. Last year they spent too, of course, giving Eric Hosmer an eight-year, $144 million contract, but this is definitely next-level. As for the baseball side of things, it’s likely that Machado will be the full-time third baseman with Luis Urias handling shortstop. While all of the talk about Machado over the past several months has been focused on money and, sometimes, his alleged lack of hustle, the Padres are getting a player with a career line of .282/.335/.487 (121 OPS+), 175 career homers and a 33.8 career WAR in seven big league seasons. While he played shortstop last year and as a minor leaguer, his past and future is at third, where he is a superior defender. As for the hustle: it has almost exclusively been an obsession of the media, based on an ill-advised postgame quote in October. He has received no bad reviews from former teammates, all of whom speak highly of his game and his work ethic.

When the offseason began it appeared that the Phillies or the Yankees or, perhaps, the White Sox had the inside track on Machado. Everyone took a wait-and-see approach, reasonably believing that by waiting out Machado, a better deal could be struck. The risk of that approach, of course, is that it allowed the Padres to talk themselves into getting bold and, ultimately, swooping in to strike this deal.