On Tuesday, Francys Romero of CiberCuba reported that Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB) reached an agreement on a posting system that would allow players to join the league without having to emigrate. An official announcement by the MLB and MLB Players Association was made on Wednesday.
Players who came from Cuba to the U.S. will be unaffected by the new agreement. The FCB will have to release all of their players who are at least 25 years old and have at least six years of playing experience, giving them the opportunity to come play for Major League Baseball. FCB can also release younger players to allow them a similar opportunity.
This is a big deal for all parties involved: Cuban baseball players, the country of Cuba, and Major League Baseball. Most importantly, this opens up a safe way for Cuban players to enter the U.S. to play Major League Baseball. We have heard some horror stories in the past of what Cuban players had to go through to reach the U.S. There was also a significant amount of human trafficking involved, largely being done by drug cartels.
For example, in 2014, the smugglers who helped Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig leave Cuba made threats against him for his money. Puig initially went from Cuba to Mexico to establish a residence, allowing him to go through the free agency process rather than being subjected to the draft if he had gone directly from Cuba to the U.S. The process made Puig vulnerable and he was forced to become involved with some shady people, to say the least.
The late José Fernández and his mother tried four times to reach the U.S. by boat from Cuba and failed the first three times. On the fourth try, they went to Mexico by boat. During the journey, a wave caused one of the members to go overboard — Fernández’s mother. He jumped into the water to save her. Thankfully, they survived the trip and Fernández eventually gained entry into the U.S.
That Cuban players will no longer have to go to such great lengths to come to the U.S. is terrific. They will also get the chance to make good money and improve their living conditions, both here and back home for their families. The talent level of Major League Baseball will increase, which can only be a good thing as well. All in all, this is great news.