By Don Reisinger
December 20, 2018

Major League Baseball (MLB) and its players’ union have reached an important agreement with the Cuban Baseball Federation that could dramatically improve player safety.

Under the new agreement, Cuban baseball players who plan to play in the MLB may be released from their contracts in Cuba and legally sign contracts as free agents with American teams. The Cuban players can then travel to the U.S. and play without facing any legal recourse.

According to the MLB, the deal, which will expire on October 31, 2021, is available to any player who is 25 years of age or older and has been working in the country for six years. Players who are between the ages of 18 years and 25 years could also qualify, but they’d need a special approval by the Cuban Baseball Federation.

The deal is an important one for Cuban players who want to play in the U.S. For years, Cuban players have been forced to defect the country and get to the U.S. through dangerous methods. Some have even hired smugglers to bring them to the country, putting their lives at risk.

In a statement, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said that the league has been pushing “to end the trafficking of baseball players from Cuba by criminal organizations.” The agreement between the league and the Cuban Baseball Federation should pave the way for a much safer journey for Cuban players to enter the U.S.

For its part, the Cuban Baseball Federation will receive between 15% and 20% of the player’s full guaranteed contract value on a major league contract. If the player goes to the minor leagues, the Cuban organization will get 25% of the player’s signing bonus.

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