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Not all Cuban baseball stars want to defect to play in MLB

Not all Cuban baseball stars want to defect to play in MLB

Posted by Juan Gavasa on April 10, 2015

Though recent years have seen a steady stream of talented Cuban baseball talent leaving their homeland to sign eight-figure contracts with MLB teams, not all of the island nation’s top ballplayers want to flee their homeland for overseas riches.

For Yahoo!, Michael Isikoff interviewed third baseman Yulieski Gourriel, who has shined on the field in Cuba, Japan and in international play but has no interest in joining the Major League ranks until he has permission from the government.

But the 30-year-old Gourriel, who has at times been compared to Derek Jeter, also made it clear he has no intention of bucking the Castro regime — and no interest in defecting to the United States.

He and other Cuban stars “are ready when they say we have permission to play,” he said. “We are ready for the lifting of the blockade. Then we can come play.”…

“The Cuban government is going to want to be compensated just the way the clubs in Japan are compensated when one of their players leaves,” said (Cuban baseball expert Eric) Nadel. “If the Cubans are going to let their players leave, the U.S. teams are going to have to pay the Cuban team, which is essentially the government.”

The success of players like Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes, not to mention the big deals recently given to guys like Rusney Castillo, Yoan Moncada and Yasmany Tomas, suggest Cuba could become a pipeline for big-league talent if and when the process becomes less complicated and restrictive.

That the Cuban government could ultimately expect a posting fee of some sort represents yet another potential hurdle to the already difficult — and frequently dangerous and exploitative — path from Cuba to the Majors. And it’s yet another issue an international draft will do nothing to settle.

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