MLB, union, Cuba reach deal for players to sign

"For years, Major League Baseball has been seeking to end the trafficking of baseball players from Cuba by criminal organizations by creating a safe and legal alternative for those players to sign with major league clubs", he said.

That is likely a reference to a license granted to the league in 2016 by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control that specifically allowed major league clubs to scout and sign Cuban players and permitted them to travel to the US.

The MLB and the FCB announced on Wednesday that they reached a historic agreement to normalize the contracting of Cuban players, which the 30 teams from the Major Leagues can start doing from 2019.

Similar agreements exist in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

Just like in instances with players coming from Japan, Korea and China, there will be a "release fee", or "posting fee" that Major League Baseball clubs will have to pay to the FBC for players that they agree to sign. Players who are 25 or older and have at least six years of professional experience would be automatically released.

The FCB may also release younger players to sign with Major League teams.

For the under-25 players, who will need Cuba's permission to leave, Major League Baseball teams will pay a straight 25 percent of the player's signing bonus to the Cuban federation, according to Halem. They would be classified as worldwide professionals under MLB's labour contract with the players' association and not subject to global amateur signing bonus pools. "There's absolutely no change in terms of what a Cuban player can receive from a major league club", he said.

"This agreement will put an end to these unsafe practices, while extending greater freedom to the Cuban people and enhancing our shared national pastime", Senator Cardin said in his statement.

White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, in 2013, is an example of an older professional who came to the a free agent. "Great day for Cuban baseball players". The agreement also has support among players and others employed in the Major League Baseball.

"With the revenue we will rake in, we will be able to develop Cuban baseball from the base and raise the level", former star national team player Omar Linares told Reuters.

Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark, left, and Commissioner Rob Manfred.

For decades, Cuban officials have sought to keep players on homeland sides and their powerhouse national amateur squad. This money will go back to the Cuban federation while allowing for safer player movement. "The safety and wellbeing of these young men remains our primary concern".

It marks a step forward in U.S. -Cuba relations during a time of tensions between Cuba and the Trump administration, which has pledged to undo former President Barack Obama's strengthening of relations with the island.

The percentage will depend on the size of the contract, Halem said, equaling 20 percent for the first $25 million, 17.5 percent for the next $25 million and 15 percent for any amount over $50 million.

"(Players) won't have to abandon the country illegally or take risks in other countries at the hands of unscrupulous people who live off of the sweat and blood of those athletes", said Velez, the Cuban baseball president.

For 2017-18, outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez got $2.8 million from Texas, and the only other signing bonus over $300,000 for a Cuban-born amateur was $750,000 for shortstop Eddy Diaz (Colorado).

  • Stacy Allen