President Donald Trump is willing to reconsider his stance on allowing Cuban baseball players to come to the United States, but only if Major League Baseball does something in return.
Trump, who had previously reversed a decision that would have allowed Cuban players to sign directly with MLB teams, said he will revisit the issue if MLB agrees to help him with Venezuela.
Trump met with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday. A White House official told NPR the administration wants to find “productive ways to work with MLB.”
"The administration will continue to hold the Cuban regime accountable for its direct role in the trafficking of its citizens from the island," a White House official told NPR. "The administration looks forward to finding productive ways to work with MLB to help the people of Venezuela, a country that has a rich history with MLB but has been destabilized by Cuba's interference."
Under President Barack Obama, it was determined that the Cuban Baseball Federation was not considered a government entity. That allowed Cuban baseball players to sign directly with MLB teams. The CBF would receive a payment for that, which was allowed under Obama since that payment wasn’t breaking a federal law and going to the Cuban government.
MLB and the CBF came to an agreement on the policy in December, but Trump reversed Obama’s decision in April. Under Trump’s regime, the CBF is considered a government entity. Paying the CBF would break federal laws under Trump.
The agreement between MLB and the CBF was done with the intent to make it safer for Cuban baseball players to come to MLB. In the past, players have used the assistance of smugglers to get to the United States. That can often lead to dangerous situations. Yasiel Puig faced death threats from his smuggler years after Puig made his major-league debut.
It’s unclear what happens next. The White House told NPR it is willing to continue meeting with MLB on the issue. MLB has not commented on the meeting.
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