Trump administration ends MLB/Cuba deal


April 9, 2019 - 10:10 AM

President Donald Trump listens to border enforcement officials during a roundtable discussion about issues on the U.S.-Mexican border at the Border Patrol Station in Calexico, Calif., on Friday. Hayne Palmour IV/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS

HAVANA (AP) — The Trump administration is moving to end a deal allowing Cuban baseball players to sign contracts directly with Major League Baseball organizations. The change will once again require Cuban players to cut ties with their national program before signing with MLB.

The Treasury Department told MLB attorneys in a letter Friday that it was reversing an Obama administration decision allowing the major leagues to pay the Cuban Baseball Federation a release fee equal to 25% of each Cuban player’s signing bonus. The decision made public Monday afternoon appears to make the MLB-Cuba deal unworkable by eliminating the payment mechanism, similar to one MLB has with leagues 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.”

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