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Report: Cuban free agents will be able to sign with MLB team before emigrating

Tim Heitman, USA Today Sports

The way that Cuban baseball players sign with MLB teams is changing. Players from Cuba will be able to sign without first having to emigrate.

Previously players had to leave Cuba, which is easier said than done, without any knowledge of what awaited them. Many of the risks still exist, though it’s easier now than it used to be. But when players do leave Cuba, they’ll know that there’s an MLB team awaiting them in the USA.

The report from Francis Romero of Cibercuba.com (which was translated into English) did note that there are three guidelines.

1. Cuban players who emigrate after 2019 in search of free agency, this will be denied.

2. The Cuban Baseball Federation will present its best talents to the MLB organizations and sign from the Island, obtaining the INDER 25% of the contract’s profits.

3. Baseball players who continue the process of free agency and emigrated until 2018 will remain in current market patterns regardless of the new agreement.

It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in the coming years. A lot, of course, is left to be determined about how this will actually work in practice. But it has potential to be one of the biggest changes to how MLB free agency works in decades.