Trump admin targets MLB's ability to recruit Cuban players

Trump administration cancels MLB deal with Cuba

Trump administration cancels MLB deal with Cuba

"He's never tried to own a team (as far as we know), has yet to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game, and on Monday, he rescinded an agreement between the USA and Cuba that allowed Cuban ball players (sic) to join the MLB without having to undergo the risky process of defecting from their home country", Splinter News reports.

Last year, 25 Cuban-born players played in at least one major league baseball game. The player would also have to pay Cuban income taxes on foreign earnings.

The deal, which was initially negotiated under President Barack Obama, met with immediate opposition from the Trump administration.

"We stand by the goal of the agreement, which is to end the human trafficking of baseball players from Cuba", an MLB statement said.

The Trump administration considers the Cuban Baseball Federation to be part of the island's National Sports Institute, which, according to the US official, is a government entity that USA law says makes such business dealings illegal. "Any contrary idea is false news".

On Monday, the Trump administration revoked that short-lived privilege and now made it necessary for Cuban players to defect in order to play. "The politically motivated attacks on the deal hurt players, their families, and fans". It says the federation falls under the Cuban Olympic Committee, which in turn reports to the International Olympic Committee, not the Cuban government.

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Under the agreement, players were allowed to receive 100 percent of a signing bonus, while the Major League Baseball clubs would pay an additional 25 percent of that to the federation as a release fee.

It was created to end the often unsafe pattern of ambitious Cuban stars seeking to join the major leagues by defecting and arranging to smuggle themselves out of Cuba with the aid of human traffickers. The players were aged between 17 and 25 years, classified as worldwide amateurs under MLB rules and eligible to sign minor league contracts.

Puig defected from Cuba on a speedboat at age 21 and soon found himself entangled with Mexico's notorious Zetas crime organization, which threatened to chop off his arm if it failed to receive the promised $250,000 fee for his passage.

The 34 players were 17 to 25, classified as worldwide amateurs under MLB rules and eligible to sign minor league contracts.

The Cuban federation also agreed to release all players 25 and older with at least six years of professional experience to be classified as global professionals under MLB's labor contract with the players' association and not subject to worldwide amateur signing bonus pools. Younger players were required to get the Cuban Baseball Federation's blessing to play for MLB teams.

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