US Trade Embargo Changes Allow Cuban Baseball Players to Legally Earn Salaries

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2016

Workers work on the Latinoamericano Stadium baseball arena in Havana, Cuba, Friday, March 4, 2016. U.S. President Barack Obama plans to attend the Tampa Bay Rays' exhibition game at the arena in Cuba on March 22 during his visit. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
Desmond Boylan/Associated Press

By virtue of more lenient trade embargo regulations between the United States and Cuba laid forth Tuesday, the door is now open for Cuban baseball players to legally earn salaries as part of Major League Baseball.

According to the Associated Press and ESPN.com, President Barack Obama eliminated a ban on Cuban access to the international banking system, which will allow Cuban citizens to make a living in the United States without having to emigrate.

Cuban baseball players are currently forced to defect to the United States in order to play in MLB, but Tuesday's changes could soon bring that necessity to an end.

It represents the latest example of the easing of tensions between the United States and Cuba, which will continue March 22 when the Tampa Bay Rays travel to Cuba for an exhibition game against the Cuban national team.

President Obama is expected to attend that game, and per ESPN.com, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is extremely excited about the opportunity:

Major League Baseball is excited to play in Cuba and to have the Tampa Bay Rays representing our 30 Clubs. During a time of historic change, we appreciate the constructive role afforded by our shared passion for the game, and we look forward to experiencing Cuba's storied baseball tradition and the passion of its many loyal fans.

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The embargo between the United States and Cuba has been in place since 1960, but according to the ESPN.com report, Obama is expected to request its elimination when he visits Havana on Sunday.

Even if that doesn't come to fruition, however, the door is open for the two countries to reach an agreement on the professional baseball front.

Cuba is brimming with talented ballplayers who would love a shot to play in the majors, but doing so is often a difficult and dangerous proposition.

Provided defection is no longer needed, though, Cuban players could soon receive more opportunities to play in the United States than ever before, and that figures to increase the quality and depth of talent in MLB as well.

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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