Trump administration cancels Major League Baseball deal with Cuba

Trump administration cancels MLB deal with Cuba

Trump admin targets MLB's ability to recruit Cuban players

It was meant to avoid the previous scenario under which Cuban players who wanted to play on USA teams had to defect and declare residency in the U.S.to join a team.

In 2016, then-President Barack Obama became the first sitting American president to visit Cuba, thawing relations between the two countries.

The Trump administration won't allow Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation to go forward with a deal that would have allowed Cuban players meeting certain requirements to play in the USA without defecting. "We believe that this agreement accomplishes that objective and will allow the next generation of Cuban players to pursue their dream without enduring numerous hardships experienced by current and former Cuban players who have played Major League Baseball".

'Cuba wants to use baseball players as economic pawns - selling their rights to Major League Baseball, ' White House national security adviser John Bolton tweeted Sunday.

The 25 per-cent release fee that teams would pay to Cuban clubs as part of the agreement was tantamount to "human trafficking", a senior government official told the Washington Post. The players would also have to pay Cuban income tax on foreign earnings.

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

This process would have all but negated the human-trafficking aspect of the unsafe terrain Cuban defectors have had to face in order to play Major League Baseball.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who was opposed to the Major League Baseball deal, said it legalized the trafficking of the players.

"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", MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a December 19 statement announcing the deal. It's definitely hard for a lot of Cuban players who are not playing at this level here in the States.

On Monday, the Trump administration revoked that short-lived privilege and now made it necessary for Cuban players to defect in order to play.

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

Passan reports that Major League Baseball included the harrowing defection tales of Cuban players Yasiel Puig (whose story can be found here), Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes, and many others, with hopes of swaying the Treasury Department's ruling, apparently to no avail. An earlier try in 2008 was foiled, and Chapman was kept off Cuba's team in the 2008 Olympics.

'To know future Cuban players will not have to go through what we went through makes me so happy, ' he said in the statement.

"We are unsure of the next steps", an Major League Baseball source said. "The biggest impact is going to be the guys who are back in Cuba".

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the cancellation of the agreement is part of the Trump administration's effort to increase pressure on Cuba and Nicaragua for their support of Nicolas Maduro (left), the president of Venezuela. It's definitely hard for a lot of Cuban players who are not playing at this level here in the States.

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