With the Central American Games right around the corner the Cuban Baseball Federation dropped a bombshell and did something atypical, they opened the doors to non-Cuban residents or better said Cuban-Americans. The Federation who opened the doors to Cubans non-affiliated with the Federation for the World Baseball Classic decided to expand on its earlier inclusion policy, which was already in place in other sports around the island.
Juan Reinaldo Pérez Pardo had this to say about the situation in an official statement:
The Cuban Baseball Federation initiated a policy of inclusion in 2019 that started to change the concept on how to build Cuban National Teams for international competitions.”
Today we have decided to include all the people of Cuba, including their descendants, because baseball like all sports tends to unite all people. Of course we will still continue to include all the players brought up by the Cuban Baseball Federation and all those who reside in Cuba. Depending on the magnitude of the event we will adjust our teams accordingly with the right balance of affiliated and non-affiliated players.
“In the upcoming Pan American Games we are definitely going to take into account all players who play outside of the Federation, including those who play in foreign leagues and MiLB. Though we are still reviewing some of reinsertion rules such as repatriation, which continues to be an obstacle for some players. Our main objective is that all the baseball players who want to come represent their homeland and/or their province be able to participate and reinsert themselves in not only international tournaments, but also domestic ones, too.”
As we (Pelota Cubana / Cuban Baseball Digest ) reported earlier this month the Cuban Baseball Federation ratified the participation off all non-Cuban residents with the national team. This opens the door for all Cuban-Americans to represent Cuba in an international event.
— Cuban Baseball Digest (@CBaseballDigest) June 21, 2023
“Therefore, our regulations are being made more flexible so that they can be extended to players who are not in Cuba today because they play in other leagues, who do not currently have residence in Cuba, but are players who want to come and play in our tournaments.We are no longer going to deny any player the right to play in the National Series or in our winter Elite League.”
The Cuban National Team made history during the last World Baseball Classic by making its way to the semifinals in Miami with a team predominantly full of professional players, including six major league ball players. The Central American Games should include the usual suspects like Roel Santos, Yurisbel Gracial, Erisbel Arruebarruena.
But future tournaments like the Pan-Am Games could include minor league players. The tournament will take place after the minor league season, it’s anyone’s guess what future MLB prospects could be on Cuba’s roster, including Cuban-Americans. One Cuban-American (Peter O’Brien) has already expressed interest in playing for the country.