Cuban pitcher Norge Luis Vera.
Cuba, This Week in Latin America

Cuba May Lift Restrictions On Baseball Players Signing Abroad

November 24, 2010 By Staff

Cuban pitcher Norge Luis Vera.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — The Cuban government may lift restrictions on baseball players signing contracts abroad, ending five decades of self-imposed tradition.

The Cuban Federation of Baseball is thinking about a proposal that would permit Cuban players to join professional leagues in other countries. The idea first surfaced at the 17th International Cup in Taipei, where Federation vice president and son of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Antonio Castro brought up the proposal to members of the Cuban delegation.

“Many rumors had been heard about Cuba looking for some sort of deal with professional circuits,” said Carlos Pérez, president of Miami Sports Consulting, an agency that represents several Caribbean players, according to The Miami Herald. “But we’d have to wait and see if this will work out or if it’s just another idea dead on arrival.”

ESPN Deportes columnist Enrique Rojas reported on the proposal back in September, where he cited a “source close to Cuban baseball authorities,” and said he expected the news to be denied by government officials.

The Cuban national team and league have suffered a dissipation in talent over the last few decades due to players defecting to play on Major League Baseball (MLB) teams in the United States. Even if the Cuban government allowed its players to sign contracts in the United States, the decades-old embargo would make financial transactions with Cuba difficult.

Earlier this month, one of Cuba’s most promising prospects, 17-year-old Yasiel Balaguer left the country for Nicaragua where he plans to become a free agent and make it to the Major Leagues. A natural baserunner and extraordinary defensive player, Balaguer was a starter in the latest Cuban team that played in the World Junior Baseball Championship in Ontario, Canada.

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Image: m. for matthijs @ Flickr.

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