Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lawmakers seek change in MLB Cuban player policy

Posted on Tuesday, 04.22.14

Lawmakers seek change in MLB Cuban player policy

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Two Florida lawmakers motivated by Los Angeles
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig's dangerous escape from Cuba are trying
to change the way Major League Baseball treats Cuban players and are
willing to tie state money for stadiums to the issue.

Reps. Jose Felix Diaz and Matt Gaetz are filing an amendment to a
stadium funding bill that would require the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay
Rays demand Major League Baseball change its Cuban player policy if they
want state money for stadium construction or renovations.

"We are enlisting the Marlins and Rays in our fight against the human
traffickers and smugglers," said Gaetz, R-Shalimar.

Other foreign players can negotiate with all 30 baseball teams before
signing a contract, but if Cuban players come directly to the United
States, they are subject to the amateur draft, potentially costing them
tens of millions of dollars. Teams aren't allowed to negotiate with
Cuban players if they remain in Cuba.

That leads to a situation's like Puig's. Instead of coming straight to
the United States, Puig and other players have established residency in
other countries first to protect their free agent status.

Details of Puig's escape from Cuba were revealed recently in a lawsuit
that described a dangerous journey, dealings with shady characters and
Puig and a Cuban boxer being held hostage over unpaid smuggling debts.
Puig, boxer Yunior Despaigne and their families have continued to
receive death threats and one of the men who smuggled them out of Cuba
was shot dead in Mexico, according to a story first reported in Los
Angeles Magazine.

"They cannot continue to ignore the reality of their poorly crafted
rules," said Diaz, R-Miami. "This bill really is about equity. Cubans
should not be treated differently than any other Caribbean, South
American or Central American players."

The lawmakers hope to attach their language to a bill waiting for a
House vote that creates a pool of state funds for professional stadium
renovations and construction. The amendment would also require the
Florida teams demand Major League Baseball report any information they
have on Floridians involved in human trafficking or smuggling of Cuban
players to the state attorney general.

"It's pretty clear that the unintended consequence of Major League
Baseball's draft rules — it has empowered cartels and human smugglers
and Florida is right in the middle of it," said Gaetz.

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Source: TALLAHASSEE, Fla.: Lawmakers seek change in MLB Cuban player
policy - Legislature - -

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