clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cuba is interested in bringing defectors back to its national team

Sunday's Say Hey, Baseball talks about Cuba being open to the idea of welcoming defectors back to its national team. Plus, Justin Verlander hates running almost as much as a normal person does.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Listen, we know it’s tough to catch up on everything happening in the baseball world each morning. There are all kinds of stories, rumors, game coverage and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans every day. Trying to find all of it while on your way to work or sitting at your desk just isn’t easy. It’s okay, though, we’re going to do the heavy lifting for you each morning, and find the things you need to see from within the SB Nation baseball network, as well as from elsewhere. Please hold your applause until the end, or at least until after you subscribe to the newsletter.


As of right now, any Cuban player who defects from their nation to the United States in order to play baseball is subsequently banned from playing for their national team. That has been a hard and fast rule ever since the embargo between the United States and Cuba went into place. However, thanks to the recent warm-up in relations between the U.S. and Cuba, a possibility has opened up that could have major ramifications on the upcoming World Baseball Classic -- Cuba is open to the idea of bringing back defectors to its national team.

According to a report from Jon Morosi, if the Cuban government (or another entity) could receive a "release fee" of sorts in exchange for Cuban players coming to the United States to play baseball without giving up their Cuban citizenship, then the next step would be allowing those players and other defectors from the past to be eligible to play for the Cuban national squad. The embargo prohibits this from happening, but the embargo itself will probably be a thing of the past in the near future -- at least by the time the new President of the United States is in office -- but baseball clearly doesn't want to wait that long, which means that they're currently working to strike an agreement that would work under the current embargo and also when it's lifted.

Aside from the political ramifications of this deal, just imagine what it'll be like to see a full-strength Cuban national team. Although it's slowed down a bit in recent times, Cuba has historically done very well in tournaments without defectors, so seeing a team with the likes of Jose Fernandez, Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu and Aroldis Chapman just to name a few would be absolutely amazing for the World Baseball Classic -- and also utterly terrifying for their opponents. We're probably very close to seeing a full-strength Cuban national team in tournament action, and the effect that this will have on both Major League Baseball, the World Baseball Classic and the culture of the game itself in Cuba is probably too large to be measured. This could be a watershed moment for the sport, and it can't come too soon.


Get all kinds of MLB stories, rumors, game coverage, and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans in your inbox every day.