Badler: How will MLB handle big changes with Cuba?

From Ben Badler at Baseball America on December 18, 2014:

The next step toward an influx of Cuban players coming to Major League Baseball teams is underway. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced sweeping changes in the United States’ Cuban policies, easing trade and travel restrictions, announcing the opening of a U.S. embassy in Cuba and saying the countries will continue discussions to try to normalize their relationship.

For Cuban players to more freely come to MLB, the 54-year U.S. embargo against Cuba still needs to be lifted. That requires congressional approval, with Obama saying that he looks forward to “engaging Congress in an honest and serious debate about lifting the embargo.” Cuban president Raul Castro also spoke publicly Wednesday, urging the U.S. to disband the embargo.

To anyone following U.S.-Cuban politics and the direction of Cuban baseball, the trends in recent years have been clear. The MLB commissioner’s office has had internal discussions about what to do if the embargo was lifted and Cuba ever opened up. So have team personnel.

It’s not clear what’s next, although nothing is likely to happen for the 2015 season. Beyond that, however, major changes could be in store in terms of how MLB teams procure Cuban talent.

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Originally published: December 19, 2014. Last Updated: December 19, 2014.