Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced an agreement with the Cuban Baseball Federation that will provide Cuban baseball players with a safe and legal path to sign with an MLB club.
As announced, the objective of the agreement is to end the dangerous trafficking of Cuban players who wish to play professional baseball in the United States.
The hardships that Cuban players have faced coming over to the United States are well-documented, and one of those to navigate a dangerous journey was Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig.
“To know future Cuban players will not have to go through what we went through makes me so happy,” Puig said. “I want to thank everyone who was involved in making this happen and thank them personally for allowing an opportunity for Cuban baseball players to have the ability to come and show how talented they are. Thank you.”
Agreements like this are already in place for Japanese, Korean and Chinese professional baseball leagues. The FCB becomes the fourth foreign professional baseball league to do so.
Under this agreement, the FCB must release all players under contract to the FCB who are at least 25 years old and have six or more years of playing experience (known as “Foreign Professionals” under MLB rules) to sign with MLB Clubs.
The FCB may also release younger players to sign with Major League teams. Once a player is released by the FCB, he is free to negotiate and sign with any Major League club without leaving Cuba, subject to the same collectively bargained rules applicable to all international players.
Teams will be required to pay a release fee to the FCB team if they sign a player, which is essentially the same as a posting fee to Asian teams. How much that fee is will depend on the value of the contract signed.
Cuban players will be issued a standard work visa, may return to island during the offseason and may play in offseason tournaments or leagues in Cuba with the consent of his MLB team.
The agreement will expire on Oct. 31, 2021, unless extended by mutual agreement.