Feb 24, 2013; Dunedin, FL, USA; A detail of a MLB logo on the batters circle during a spring training game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Cuba will let athletes sign with foreign leagues without defecting

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For the longest time now, Cuban baseball players have had to go through a very difficult journey in order to come to America to play for a Major League Baseball team, as they had to defect from their country before they could do so.

That appears to be changing now, as Cuba has reportedly gotten rid of this policy:

Cuba announced Friday that athletes from all sports will soon be able to sign contracts with foreign leagues, a break with a decades-old policy that held pro sports to be anathema to socialist ideals.

It’s a step toward the day when the road from Havana to Yankee Stadium might mean simply hopping on a plane rather than attempting a perilous sea crossing or sneaking out of a hotel at midnight in a strange land.

But American baseball fans shouldn’t throw their Dodgers or Rockies caps in the air in celebration just yet. The Cold War-era embargo against Cuba means it may not happen anytime soon.

If it does come to pass, it could increase — astronomically, in some cases — the amount of money Cuban baseball players can earn.

Under the new policy, athletes will be eligible to play abroad as long as they fulfill their commitments at home. For baseball players, that means being available for international competitions as well as Cuba’s November-to-April league.

Now, people like Yoenis Cespedes will no longer have to resort to life-threatening measures to escape Cuba to come to America.

Cespedes amazing journey to America to make a living playing the sport he loves began with him having to escaped to the Dominican Republic with his mother in a speedboat, and is now adapting to life in America after defecting from Cuba, where he can no longer return to now.



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