Yesterday, it came up that Major League Baseball had reached an agreement to establish a posting system for Cuban players in an effort to remove the very real problem of human trafficking from the player development pipeline.
Jeff Passan clarified matters a bit later in the evening:
Despite reports out of Cuba that there is an agreement to allow Cuban players to come to MLB via a posting system similar to the league's agreement with Japan, no deal is finalized, sources tell Yahoo Sports. The sides do expect to complete a deal in the near future, per sources.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 19, 2018
Despite no details of the plan, given the parties involved, it can be assured that it will have very strict cost control mechanisms in place to favor the teams and there’s a nonzero chance MLB or the US government has mandatory reporting requirements of certain issues that concern the state; but, its affect on this very real problem will be significant.
Baseball players usually have to give a percentage of their earnings to the people who bring them into the US, to say nothing of the physical violence and other degradations visited upon asylum-seekers and defectors. Yasiel Puig’s story is stunning but also the norm.
A formal arrangement between enterprise and government won’t stop trafficking in its tracks, but it’s a start. An acknowledgement. And it removes the weirdness that has always accompanied these Cuban signings. They’ve seemed to trend towards teams who’ve been willing to get their hands a little dirty.
Meanwhile, and somewhat perversely, here is a situation where baseball’s lobbying efforts will help them to create something that is at least on the surface more positive than negative. It is still not great that players can’t negotiate their own terms in a supposedly free market, but addressing human rights violations (even capitalistically) is... a flex?
The United States government will obviously have something to say about an entity formalizing a relationship with Cuba, but MLB must be pretty confident that its political donations have laid the groundwork to beget a favorable outcome. If you’ve managed to read this far, what do you think?