Cuba and Major Leagues Agree on Free Agency

Major League baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB) have come to an agreement to allow Cuban players to play in the major leagues. Under this agreement the FCB will “release” all players under contract who are 25 years of age or older and have six or more years in the FCB to give them an opportunity to negotiate with a major league club. While not required to do so the FCB can also release players less than 25 years of age.

Once a player is released they are allowed to negotiate a contract with a major league club. If a major league team signs a Cuban player a release fee (15 to 20 percent of the negotiated contract), a formulae negotiated with the NPB, KBO and CPBL (though I don’t think the CPBL agreement has been formally agreed upon). The player will be allowed to play baseball in the United States under the standard work visa.

A player who is not part of the FCB will be allowed to sign with a major league club under the same rules that apply to all international free agents. FCB amateurs not playing in the Nacional Series are part of this agreement and must be released by the FCB to be eligible to negotiate with a major league club.

What is significant about this agreement is a player who is released by the FCB and is signed by a major league team can play in the Nacional Series or in an offseason tournament (such as the Olympics or World Cups) if they get approval from their major league club. Myworld would assume that any currently signed players would fall under this agreement, but that is unclear. This would certainly return Cuba to the ranks of the elite in baseball.

The contract with the FCB will expire on October 31, 2021. Any disputes between the FCB and major league baseball will be resolved in arbitration before the International Chamber of Commerce.

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