SBD/October 23, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

MLB Continues To See Big Increases In Cuban Exiles, Spurred By Changes To CBA

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Puig has helped spark the resurgence of Cuban players entering MLB
The recent increase of Cuban exiles in MLB has "happened for numerous reasons, not the least of which has been performance," according to Jorge Arangure Jr. of SPORTS ON EARTH. Reds P Aroldis Chapman is a two-time MLB All-Star, while A's LF Yeonis Cespedes won this year's Home Run Derby, and Dodgers RF Yasiel Puig is "a rambunctious controversy magnet who will almost surely make an All Star Team sometime in his career." After having "remained stagnant for 10 years, the Cuban exile contract record changed hands three times in less than two years -- and none of those three players were older than 27 when they arrived." An AL team exec said, "There is some bubble to the market. This seems to be the best example. Teams feel more comfortable because of Cespedes and Puig. Japanese pitchers will be more well received because of (Yu) Darvish. Each case has to be viewed in its own context." Yet Arangure wrote what "might have had the most impact" were changes MLB and the MLBPA made in the most recent CBA. Cuban players, depending on "their age and on their experience in Cuba's top league, are exempt from the CBA's new international and amateur bonus caps." The new CBA also has "caused teams to lock up their young talented players years before they hit free agency, meaning future free agent classes will lack big-name talent." Cuban players also are "becoming less of a risk," with MLB teams able to access "several websites dedicated to livestreaming Cuban league games." With Cuban players "seemingly defecting more often [than] ever because of the escalation in salaries, with more tools available for these players to assimilate while keeping in contact with their home country, and with a less timid attitude once they reach the majors, it stands to reason that the upward trend will continue" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 10/22).
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