Cuba to allow athletes to sign foreign contracts

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Are the days of ballplayers risking their lives to defect a thing of the past?

The Cuban Government’s anouncemnt thru GRANMA (the official newspaper of Cuba’s Communist Party) says that athletes will be able to sign contracts abroad as long as they “fulfill their obligations at home.” Said obligations were characterized thusly: “It will be taken into account that they are in Cuba for the fundamental competitions of the year.” This suggests that Cuban athletes will still be required to play for the national team and tournaments.

NBC’s Orlando Matos in Havana, who confirmed the news, says this could be considered one of the most radical economic reforms announced by the Cuban government.  Sports were declared strictly “amateur” in the early 60’s.  This reform would allow the athletes, trainers and other sports specialists to keep the money earned from contracts made abroad as long as they pay taxes to the Cuban government.   When it comes to Cuban baseball, athletes will start to get paid, receive bonuses and other monetary awards (all in Cuban pesos) and this indicates the beginnings of a professional Cuban Baseball League.

It is unclear how this affects baseball players coming to play in the United States beyond the issue of taxes, but one can only assume that this move is designed in large part to address them given the primacy of baseball in Cuba and the embarrassment to the government engendered by its biggest star athletes fleeing the country to play. Yasiel Puig has become a sensation. Yoenis Cespedes before that. We wrote the other day about a documentary on Yunel Escobar’s harrowing journey to the U.S. Before that we bore witness to Orlando Hernandez’s famous defection. As of now, teams are scouting Cuban defectors Alexander Guerrero and Jose Dariel Abreu, putting them in line to be the next big Cuban success stories.

The devil will be in the details, of course, and the details insofar as they relate to Cubans in Major League Baseball are not yet known. Nonetheless:  Viva increasing normalcy in a relationship that has been messed up for far too long.

Mariners sign RHP reliever Trevor Gott to 1-year contract

trevor gott
Michael McLoone/USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners have begun the process of bolstering their bullpen by signing right-hander Trevor Gott to a one-year contract on Wednesday.

Gott appeared in 45 games last season with Milwaukee, going 3-4 with a 4.14 ERA. Gott had 44 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings and held opponents to a .204 batting average.

Gott’s signing helps fill a void created when Erik Swanson was traded to Toronto as part of the deal that brought slugger Teoscar Hernandez to Seattle earlier this month. Gott has also pitched for San Francisco, Washington and the Los Angeles Angels.

Last season with the Brewers, Gott saw significant drops in batting average against and walk percentage, while raising his strikeout percentage.

Seattle also made a front office announcement Wednesday with the promotion of Andy McKay to assistant general manager. McKay has been with the club since 2015, when he was hired as the director of player development. McKay was promoted to senior director of baseball development in November 2021.

In his new role, McKay will oversee baseball development at all levels of the organization.