Future of Cuban Baseball

As I’ve noted before, this is not a political blog. I have strong political opinions, but they won’t be presented here. However, this blog does touch upon baseball and fatherhood, so I decided it was important for me to address the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Cuba. 

From a baseball perspective, there has already been much written about a potential pipeline of talent to the U.S.  For various reasons, I’m not as intrigued by that possibility. Honestly, if Cuba ever allowed their baseball players to come to the U.S., I imagine it would follow the Japanese NPB system

Here’s what I’m more interested in: 

  1. Will Americans be eligible to play in the Cuban National League; and
  2. Will Cuban MLB players be eligible to play in the WBC?

American Eligibility to Play in Cuba

I’m interested in the first one because we have seen MLB players go to the NPB and be successful. The most notable was Cecil Fielder, who improved in the NPB, and became the first player to hit 50 homeruns in 13 years (back when that meant something). 

Since that time, there have been other players like Ryan Vogelsong, who have salvaged their games, there haven’t been any with the impact of Fielder. Now, the NPB seems to be used for a different purpose for American players. Kevin Youkilis went there to play one last season before retiring, rather than risking being cut for non-performance by an MLB team. Tuffy Rhodes decided to make a career out of being an NPB star than return to the U.S.  

Now, I don’t know if the Cuban Leagues are better than the NPB. In fact, I doubt they are. However, it would be good to have another option for MLB players to resurrect their careers. 


I know American baseball fans are as interested in the WBC as I am. Admittedly, there are many flaws in the series (innings limits, when it’s played), but I enjoy it anyway. 

Overall, the two teams that have really underachieved have been the U.S. and Cuba. With each defection, the Cuban team continues to worsen. Here are some of the Cuban MLB players not eligible to play for Cuba anymore:

  1. Jose Abreu
  2. Yoenis Cespedes
  3. Aroldis Chapman
  4. Yasmani Grandal
  5. Adeiny Hechavarria 
  6. Jose Iglesias
  7. Leonys Martin
  8. Yasiel Puig
  9. Alexi Ramirez

These are some good to very good MLB players. These players would really strengthen the Cuban national team. I want the U.S.A. to win the WBC, but I want them to beat the best to show they are the best. I want this to be more akin to Olmpic hockey and basketball, not a collection of guys willing to play. 

I think the addition of the Cuban MLB players would spark their team and the WBC.  There is a Cuba-U.S.A. baseball rivalry at the amateur level. Maybe the addition of the Cuban MLB players will cause the best American players to show up . . . not just some of them. 


Overall, I have no idea of the political and baseball impact on the U.S. Embassy reopening in Cuba. While I know there are people who support it and those who vehemently oppose it, I think we all agree we want what’s best for the Cuban families. To a lesser extent, I think we would all enjoy better baseball.