Cuba will allow athletes to sign foreign contracts

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Top Cuban baseball players may start playing in the Mexican League as early as next season.

Cuba has changed their policy regarding professional athletes, allowing them to sign contracts with foreign professional leagues, reports Anne-Maria Garcia of the Associated Press.

The Cuban Government announced the policy change through GRANMA, the official newspaper of Cuba's Communist Party. The athletes will still have to "fulfill their obligations at home," which suggests they will need to be available for international tournaments and any Cuban domestic league.

It is unclear how this will effect baseball players who come to play in the United States. Cuban athletes will have to pay taxes on their earnings from foreign clubs, and the U.S. embargo outlaws nearly all transactions with the Cuban government.

John Sullivan, a spokesman for the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control discussed the issue with Garcia, telling the reporter "a change in Cuban laws does not affect our licensing procedure."

Mexican League officials have started negotiations with the Cuban government to import top Cuban players next season, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. These players would play in Serie Nacional, Cuba's top league, during the winter, then play in the Mexican League during the summer.

Cuba has seen a number of their most talented baseball players defect in the past few seasons, including Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes and Aroldis Chapman.

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