February 03, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) Major League Baseball has eliminated its requirement that Cuban players obtain a license from the U.S. government before they are eligible to sign with big league teams.

The decision could speed the negotiating process for Yoan Moncada, a well-regarded 19-year-old infielder who left Cuba last year with permission from Cuba's government.

MLB Executive Vice President Dan Halem sent a memorandum to teams Tuesday, saying the new policy was warranted following changes made last month by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control to Cuban Assets Control Regulations. That followed President Barack Obama's announcement in December that the United States and Cuba were re-establishing relations.

A Cuban player previously had to obtain an unblocking license from OFAC before he could sign a contract. Halem told clubs that under the new rules ''all Cuban national prospects must provide a sworn statement.''

MLB provided teams a copy of the statement each prospect must sign: It says, in part, ''I have taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba. In addition, I hereby state that I do not intend to, nor would I be welcome to, return to Cuba. Further, I hereby state that I am not a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba ... and am not a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party.''

The rules change was first reported by Yahoo!

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