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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.

Clayton Kershaw to make Opening Day start for Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw Opening Day
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed it in March and he confirmed it again on Tuesday: Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day, Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times reports.

The Dodgers are one of four teams that will open the 60-game regular season schedule on July 23; everyone else begins play on the 24th. With a 10 PM ET start, the Dodgers will host the Giants at Dodger Stadium.

Johnny Cueto will likely pitch opposite Kershaw for the Giants. Cueto was named the Giants’ Opening Day starter on March 11, before the league shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Manager Gabe Kapler hasn’t yet officially named an Opening Day starter for the makeshift season.

Kershaw, 32, made the Opening Day start eight consecutive times for the Dodgers from 2011-18. Hyun-Jin Ryu, now a Blue Jay, pitched on Opening Day last season for the Dodgers. Last year, Kershaw logged 178 1/3 innings over 28 starts and one relief appearance, his highest innings total since 2015. He went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA, 189 strikeouts, and 41 walks.