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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.
- A few days after their visit to Cuba, the Rays were greeted in Florida by an angry man who invaded their dugout and threw beer at them.
- Jake Arrieta will probably be ready for Opening Day, but the Cubs are coming up to with plans to make sure that they're sufficiently prepared for the possibility that he isn't ready.
- Coco Crisp will be with the Oakland Athletics on Opening Day, but will his veteran presence enable him to keep a spot on the squad for the entire season?
- The Colorado Rockies are probably going to be pretty bad this season, but they've got an interesting farm system that you should keep your eye on as they rebuild.
- The St. Louis Cardinals don't have an "ace" level starting pitcher in their rotation, but do you necessarily need one in order to be a contender?
- After making a couple of huge splashes in the offseason, the Arizona Diamondbacks are feeling pretty optimistic about their chances in 2016.
- Going to spring training games can be an extremely fun venture, so naturally, teams are catching on to this and making the entire experience really expensive.
- Would you like to see graphical representations of every at-bat from the career of one Barry Bonds? Of course you would.
- A lot of things haven't gone right for the Seattle Mariners during their current league-leading playoff drought, but what if this is the season in which things finally go right for them?
- Justin Verlander laid down a bunt on Saturday afternoon and ran maybe 10 feet at the most before being thrown out. He received a Bronx cheer from the crowd, and he responded by giving them a tip of the cap. There's only a few days left of this, y'all.