Donald Trump Strikes Down Deal Between MLB & Cuba That Allows Players To Sign With Teams Without Defecting
On Friday, President Donald Trump and his administration rejected a deal between Major League Baseball and the Cuban government that would’ve created a system in which players could sign with MLB teams without having to defect from Cuba. The deal was years in the making as Barack Obama‘s administration tried to ease tensions and improve relations with the neighboring country.
The Trump Administration on Friday rejected Major League Baseball’s deal with the Cuban government that would’ve allowed players to sign with teams without defecting, sources tell ESPN. A disappointing decision for MLB that reversed Obama-era rules intended to ease relations.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 8, 2019
The Treasury Department said it wouldn’t allow the deal, through which the major leagues could pay the Cuban Baseball Federation a release fee equal to 25% of each Cuban player’s signing bonus. This would make the Cuba-MLB deal unworkable by eliminating a payment mechanism similar to the ones that the league uses in China, Korea, and Japan.
“The U.S. does not support actions that would institutionalize a system by which a Cuban government entity garnishes the wages of hard-working athletes who simply seek to live and compete in a free society,” National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said. “The administration looks forward to working with MLB to identify ways for Cuban players to have the individual freedom to benefit from their talents, and not as property of the Cuban state.”
While U.S. law still prohibits payments to the Cuban government, the MLB argued that the Cuban Baseball Federation, which oversees the sport on the island, is not part of the government. Critics argued that given the supposed tight control over the lives of citizens in Cuba, the CBF is merely a thinly-veiled extension of the government.
“We stand by the goal of the agreement, which is to end the human trafficking of baseball players from Cuba,” an MLB statement said.
In a tweet, the CBF said, “The agreement with #MLB seeks to stop the trafficking of human beings, encourage cooperation and raise the level of baseball. Any contrary idea is false news. Attacks with political motivation against the agreement achieved harm the athletes, their families and the fans.”
The agreement with #MLB seeks to stop the trafficking of human beings, encourage cooperation and raise the level of baseball. Any contrary idea is false news. Attacks with political motivation against the agreement achieved harm the athletes, their families and the fans pic.twitter.com/7d3Feu26kB
— Federación Cubana de Béisbol (@CubanaBeisbol) April 8, 2019