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MLB, MLBPA announce agreement with Cuban Baseball Federation

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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.

Report: Yankees could be in on Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado
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The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.

The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.

Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.