Published: Wed, April 10, 2019
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Trump Administration Overrides MLB Deal On Cuban Player Transfers

Trump Administration Overrides MLB Deal On Cuban Player Transfers

Major League Baseball (MLB) is the most historic professional sports league in the United States and consists of 30 member clubs in the US and Canada, representing the highest level of professional baseball.

The letter, obtained by ESPN, underscored the reversal of a President Barack Obama-era policy that meant to soften relations between the USA and Cuba.

The Trump administration on Monday scrapped a historic agreement between Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation that would have allowed Cuban players to sign with USA teams without needing to defect.

Under the agreement, Major League Baseball teams would need to pay the FCB for the contractual release of players who are 24 years old or younger and have five or fewer years of service. Had this agreement been in place previous year, it would have meant about US$2.5 million paid to Cuban baseball in release fees.

Paying the Cuban Baseball Federation for their baseball stars was the result of Obama administration negotiations between the MLB and Cuba, but the dealings didn't begin until after President Donald Trump took office. A portion of the signing bonus offered to the athletes would have been returned to the Cuban Baseball Federation, similar to the way US franchises pay Asian teams when signing players to come play in America.

Under the deal agreed by MLB and the Cuban federation in December, MLB teams were going to pay the federation a fee ranging from 15 percent to 25 percent of the value of player contracts.

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"Payments to the Cuban Baseball Federation are not authorized. because a payment to the Cuban Baseball Federation is a payment to the Cuban government", the letter stated.

"One way or another, it's human trafficking", the US official told NBC.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted that the Cuban government essentially wanted "legalized trafficking of persons" in the accord with Major League Baseball. Generally prohibited from departing the island to sign with MLB clubs, Cubans wishing to play in the affiliated ranks must defect, establish residency in another country, and then seek clearance from the league. It's definitely hard for a lot of Cuban players who are not playing at this level here in the States. The letter was made public Monday afternoon. "But the way we got here, it was tough - to say the least", Chapman said.

Chapman defected from Cuba in 2009 while with the Cuban national baseball team in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and signed with the Reds in 2010.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported that the Major League Baseball sent a letter to the Treasury and State Departments, outlining the goal of its agreement. One year earlier, he attempted to defect Cuba, but that plot was foiled, and he was eventually kept off the Cuban team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, according to ESPN.

The Trump administration's rescinding the deal comes as the Cuban government continues backing the regime of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, who has a stronghold on the South American country after claiming victory in the latest election.

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