Major League Baseball is hoping to work with the United States government to create a new, easier process for signing Cuban baseball players, according to the New York Times.
MLB laid out a plan that would send a portion of Cuban players’ contracts to a newly established group that would use the funds to support the development of baseball in Cuba. Because the money would not be going directly to the Cuban government, the deal would not violate the terms of the United States’ longtime embargo on Cuba.
The proposal has been submitted to the Treasury Department.
MLB has yet to receive a response for the proposal and it is not yet known if the Cuban government would agree to such a deal. The proposal has been informally discussed with Cuban officials.
Traditionally, Cuban players that want to play in Major League Baseball have had to defect at great personal risk. Players often have to be smuggled by groups with ties to organized crime and make treacherous journeys to countries where they establish residence before eventually heading to the United States. These players are then essentially cut off from their families in Cuba.
Major league players that have defected from Cuba include Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman, Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes.
The new plan would allow players to go directly from Cuba to the U.S., and allow those players to still compete for their home country in international competitions.
The U.S. and Cuba are currently engaged in levels of diplomatic relations that have not been seen since the embargo was placed in 1960. President Barack Obama will become the first sitting president to visit Cuba in 88 years when he attends an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team on March 21.