MLB has requested from the United States government the right to let Cuban baseball players sign directly with teams, according to a report Wednesday in the New York Times. This is just part of what appears to be a much biggernecessary movement to look at how MLB treats international players.
Ben Strauss wrote:
Under the proposed plan, according to M.L.B.'s top lawyer, Dan Halem, an entity made up of Cuban entrepreneurs and officials from baseball and its players' union would be created. A percentage of salaries paid to Cuban players would go to the new body, which would function like a nonprofit organization and support youth baseball, education and the improvement of sports facilities in Cuba.
The U.S. Treasury department has not yet responded to the proposal.
Humanitarianism is one major reason changes should be adopted. MLB Daily Dish's Mike Bates called for baseball to clean up the international market "before someone gets hurt." Cuban Leonys Martin's agent has been indicted on allegations of human trafficking after Martin was held for ransom in Mexico. Martin claims to have signed a contract giving 30 percent of his earnings to Estrellas del Beisbol under "fear and extreme stress." In the Dominican, young players have to navigate buscones who claim they'll help their baseball careers -- for a price.
MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez notes that Cuba already allows its players to play in leagues outside its borders for a percentage of the contract. That is problematic in the United States, which has long had an embargo against the country, though tensions are beginning to become alleviated. President Barack Obama will even attend an exhibition game in Cuba this month when the Rays face the Cuban national team in Havana.
This comes a little more than a week after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he'd be in favor of an international draft. What makes MLB unique among the major U.S. sports leagues is that initial players acquisition is not limited to the draft. Players in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico are draft eligible, while a player from elsewhere in Latin America is allowed to sign directly with any team of his choosing. Agent Scott Boras has argued that it is not fair, which, really, it is not, although international pool spending limits do even the field a bit.
Manfred said last week in Phoenix that changes may be coming along that front.
"My own view -- and it's been this view for a long time -- is that sooner or later, it would be better if players, no matter from where they hail, enter the game through the same type of system, and that is a draft system," Manfred said. "It will be a topic we will spend some time on with the MLBPA over the course of the next year."
For fairness and safety reasons both, any changes MLB is able to effect moving forward would undoubtedly be welcome ones.
Cameron Maybin is dinged up already
Outfielder Cameron Maybin was hit on the left hand during the Tigers' game Wednesday against the Yankees. He's also nursing a right shoulder injury suffered in the offseason when he slipped on ice on his porch in North Carolina while holding his young son.
Steven Moya hit a home run!
You may also have noticed Steven Moya hit a home run to right field against the Yankees, continuing a pretty nice winter league season. Drew Sharp did! Moya gives credit to making an effort to get his pitch to hit, rather than offering at what the pitcher would like. Needless to say if the once No. 2 prospect in the system finally comes around, it'd be a great help for the Tigers.
Bruce Rondon may have turned the corner
This would also be good news! Lynn Henning noted that reliever Bruce Rondon is making the best of a second chance after being sent home before the end of the 2015 season. "There's an extra pace to his step," manager Brad Ausmus said.
Old friend alert
Gorkys Hernandez is a possible fifth outfielder in SF.
Brewers' dog Hank is an imposter
Brew Crew Ball provided some nice photographic evidence that Hank is in fact not who the Brewers say he is. When pressed about this, the Brewers, however, told SB Nation something about Santa Claus and the Great Pumpkin.