Harrowing Defection Stories Led to the Agreement
In 1991, the defection of Cuban pitcher René Arocha to the United States triggered a series of events that will last for the better part of two decades. While awaiting a connecting flight in Miami, Arocha simply walked away from the Cuban national team, seeking asylum in the US. It was the first case of its kind in which a Cuban player took it upon himself to defect to another country.
Since then, baseball has seen hundreds of players actively seek to defect their roots in Cuba for a chance at MLB. According to Francys Romero, who I interviewed on the WTTS Pod, “since 2003, Cuba has seen more than 300 players defect,” which has left the talent pool in Cuba dry.
We’ve heard stories of players like Jose Fernandez, who at the age of 15 had to dive into shark infested waters to save his mother from drowning while defecting from Cuba.
— joon (@joonlee) September 25, 2016
There have also been stories like Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez who on his ninth and final attempt to defect to the US, ended up stranded on an island for four days before being rescued by the US Coastguard.
The more you search these stories, the worse they become. Stories that involve multi-million dollar player trafficking schemes, murders, jail sentences, and more.
The good news is that the agreement between MLB and the FCB will “take care of the player ‘trafficking’,” a source familiar with this issue told WTTS. There is a caveat to this agreement, however. According to our source, “paying the Cuban government a 25% fee for the player’s services is paramount to paying an extortion fee to what has been a communist government for 60 years… I’m truly surprised that MLB and the MLBPA approved this deal.”
It’s not quite 25% that MLB will pay the Cuban government for a player’s services. According to SB Nation,
Teams signing a foreign professional pay a graduated fee to the Cuban Baseball Federation. The fees are as follows:
- 20% of the first $25 million in guaranteed money
- 17.5% of the total from $25-50 million
- 15% of any amount over $50 million
- For any minor league contracts signed, the release fee is 25% of the signing bonus
There’s also an age requirement for players. A player deciding to seek a deal with an MLB team must be at least 25 years of age. Any player(s) seeking a big league deal with an MLB team under the age of 25, must be at least 17 years old and needs the permission of the FCB.
Having grown up in Washington Heights, a small Dominican neighborhood just one mile away from Yankee Stadium, Manny is a life-long Yankees fan. He began pursuing his passion for writing about baseball in March 2018 when he co-founded a small baseball media company called Welcome to THE SHOW. Manny is also a contributor at Call to the Pen. Follow Manny on twitter @MannyGo3.