Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Changes with Cuba

President Obama on Tuesday announced changes in how the U.S. embargo on Cuba will be enforced, and one of those changes is specifically aimed at opening up American professional baseball to Cuban residents.

The new rules will allow Cubans to open U.S. bank accounts and allow Cubans living in the United States to earn a salary without establishing residency outside Cuba. The White House announcement specifically mentioned professional athletes, and baseball is the most obvious U.S. sport attracting Cubans.

This is one necessary step in wresting control of the athletes into the U.S. market away from the human traffickers and smugglers, a dirty and dangerous business. But it's only one step.

Major League Baseball is in talks with the Cuban government to let players sign directly with its teams, rather than flee Cuba and seek political asylum in the United States. Among the points of dispute apparently are how many players would come to American pro ball and whether they also could compete in the Cuban leagues.

The reality is that most of the best of Cuba's talent has already fled the island, The Serie Nacional, the top Cuban league, has been severely dented by the defections.

MLB has two reasons to want to control and limit the flow of talent from Cuba.: first, to depress the price of that talent, as it does with American amateur talent with the draft and othe restrictions; second, to encourage the development of future talent, 

It's uncertain how close MLB and Cuba are to an agreement. But the new financial rules appear to make such an agreement workable, 

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