President Trump nixed the deal that let MLB teams acquire Cuban players, and Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman had plenty to say about it.
Politics and baseball collided when the Trump administration eighty-sixed an agreement between Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation. Naturally, the media asked New York Yankees Cuban closer Aroldis Chapman for his thoughts on the matter.
“It took me by surprise that it’s being canceled,’’ Chapman told North Jersey’s Pete Caldera through an interpreter. “I feel bad for those young ballplayers that won’t have the opportunity to sign.”
Because the CBF is part of the Cuban government, White House officials believe that paying posting fees constitutes an illegal transaction. Therefore, the deal is no longer valid.
However, Chapman doesn’t believe the policy change will stop Cuban players from seeking to enter the U.S. via other means:
“Unfortunately, they might find themselves making difficult decisions on how to get here,’’ he told Caldera.
Of course, the flame-throwing lefty is referring to the dangerous option of defecting. Chapman took that route in 2009, but his journey was not the typical harrowing trip across the ocean by smuggler’s raft.
The now 31-year-old just walked out of the Cuban national team’s hotel in the Netherlands and never looked back. The fortuitous timing of that decision is not lost on him:
“For me and a lot of fellow Cuban players, we already established ourselves here (and are) fortunate enough to have our families here. We’re lucky.’’
Hopefully, MLB and the CBF can work with the U.S. government to find an alternative deal. No one, regardless of political affiliation, wants to see athletes risking their lives for a chance to play in America.