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HAVANA (AP) — Major League Baseball Jose Bautista Jersey , its players’ association and the Cuban Baseball Federation reached an agreement that will allow players from the island to sign big league contracts without defecting, an effort to eliminate the dangerous trafficking that had gone on for decades.The agreement, which runs through Oct. 31, 2021, allows Cubans to sign under rules similar to those for players under contract to clubs in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.“For years, Major League Baseball has been seeking to end the trafficking of baseball players from Cuba by criminal organizations by creating a safe and legal alternative for those players to sign with major league clubs,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement Wednesday. “We believe that this agreement accomplishes that objective and will allow the next generation of Cuban players to pursue their dream without enduring many of the hardships experienced by current and former Cuban players who have played Major League Baseball.”Depending on the quality of future players, the agreement could mean millions of dollars in future income for the cash-poor Cuban federation, which has seen the quality of players and facilities decline in recent years as talent went overseas.The agreement marks a step forward in U.S.-Cuba relations during a time of tensions between Cuba and the Trump administration, which has pledged to undo President Barack Obama’s 2014 opening with the island.MLB said the deal was allowed by amendments to the Cuban Asset Control Regulations of March 16, 2016, that established the provisions of a general license from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. The league said OFAC confirmed to Major League Baseball in a letter dated Sept. 20, 2016, that an agreement with the Cuban federation would be valid.“Baseball has always been a bridge between our two nations, facilitating people-to-people connections and larger agreements that have brought our countries closer together,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.Any disputes between MLB and the Cuban federation are subject to resolution by the International Chamber of Commerce.“Establishing a safe, legal process for entry to our system is the most important step we can take to ending the exploitation and endangerment of Cuban players who pursue careers in Major League Baseball,” union head Tony Clark said in a statement. “The safety and well-being of these young men remains our primary concern.”Only players under contract to the Cuban federation are covered by the agreement, and the Cuban federation agreed to release all players 25 and older with at least six years of professional experience. They would be classified as international professionals under MLB’s labor contract with the players’ association and not subject to international amateur signing bonus pools.The Cuban federation may at its discretion release younger players to sign minor league contracts with MLB organizations.A player can decide whether he wants a registered MLBPA agent to negotiate a major league contract. He may use a representative other than an agent to negotiate a minor league deal.U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican , called it a “homerun agreement,” tweeting “This deal will make life better for Cuban baseball players, who will no longer have to risk unsafe passage to the U.S.”Players have told stories of harrowing crossings on rafts and rickety boats — some later challenged as exaggerations.“Today is a day that I am extremely happy,” said a statement from Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, who was smuggled out of Cuba by traffickers linked to a Mexican drug gang, according to court testimony. “To know future Cuban players will not have to go through what we went through makes me so happy.”Cuban-born players have a long history in the major leaguers, led by Minnie Minoso with nine All-Star selections, Tony Oliva with eighth and Camilo Pascual and Tony Perez with seven each. And while Puig, Orlando and Livan Hernandez, Aroldis Chapman and others became stars in recent decades, others have been big-money busts. Outfielder Rusney Castillo agreed to a $72.5 million, seven-year contract with Boston in 2014 and has appeared in just 99 games with the Red Sox while playing 347 in the minor leagues.“Words cannot fully express my heartfelt joy,” Chicago White Sox All-Star first baseman Jose Abreu said in a statement. “Dealing with the exploitation of smugglers and unscrupulous agencies will finally come to an end for the Cuban baseball player. To this date, I am still harassed.”Any players allowed to sign with big league clubs can do so without leaving Cuba, and the fee paid by the signing team will be covered by the same rules as in MLB’s other posting systems: 20 percent of the first $25 million of a major league contract, 17.5 percent of the next $25 million and 15 percent of any amount over $50 million. There will be a supplemental fee of 15 percent of any earned bonuses, salary escalators and exercised options.For minor league contracts, the fee will be 25 percent of the signing bonus, and there will be a supplemental fee for any foreign professionals who at first agree to minor league deals that include major league terms that later come into force.A former Cuban federation player under contract to a MLB club may return to Cuba during the offseason. He can play in Cuba during the offseason only with his MLB club’s consent.Cuban players will need the consent of a series of sports officials in the country before the Cuban Baseball Federation agrees to release them, according to the organization’s president, Higinio Velez. He described the new system as a way of protecting the quality of Cuban baseball while allowing players to head to MLB without resorting to traffickers or breaking ties with their country.Addressing young players’ families, he said Devin Mesoraco Jersey , “This is the legal path, the secure path that we’ve always dreamed of for their children.”“Today’s contract gives the Cuban player a secure life, a tranquil one, of being able to play in Cuba, be signed by any team in the major leagues, to be able to return, to be with their family, travel with their family, to come and go legally any time they want,” he said.The departure of young Cuban players to MLB has slowed since limits were placed on signing bonuses for international amateurs starting July 2, 2017.For 2017-18, outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez got $2.8 million from Texas, and the only other signing bonus over $300,000 for a Cuban-born amateur was $750,000 for shortstop Eddy Diaz (Colorado).In the current signing period that started July 2, the largest signing bonus for a Cuban-born amateur has been $975,000 for outfielder Jairo Pomares with San Francisco. CINCINNATI (AP) — For two days, Yasiel Puig sat and watched the Reds finally emerge from their deep slump. He felt pressure to do something important in his first game back.Puig returned from a two-game suspension and doubled home a pair of runs, helping Cincinnati complete a reinvigorating three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins with a 5-0 victory on Thursday.The Reds entered the series with eight straight losses and the worst record in the NL. They came away with their first three-game sweep of the Marlins at Great American Ball Park since 2010.Puig watched the Reds play better without him while taking the first two games of the series.“I don’t want to come back,” he said. “My team gets better with myself out. I said I need to hit something.”Most of the 11,192 fans were chanting Puig’s name after he ran into the outfield wall unsuccessfully trying to grab a foul in the first inning, and again in the fifth when his double off Pablo Lopez (1-2) put the Reds up 4-0. He also got his first stolen base.Puig missed the first two games of the series as punishment for his role in an on-field confrontation with the Pirates at PNC Park on Sunday.Eugenio Suarez had three hits , including a solo homer , as the Reds got the better of a matchup two of the NL’s worst offenses. The Marlins have scored the fewest runs in the league (34). The Reds came in with the worst batting average (.194) despite a 14-0 win in the second game of the series.Cincinnati scored 21 runs while sweeping the series, matching its total for the first nine games.“Baseball’s crazy,” Puig said. “We’re losing a lot of games back-to-back, and now we sweep the Marlins.”Miami managed only 12 hits and one run in the series. On Thursday, the Marlins got only one runner into scoring position.“It’s hard to explain,” manager Don Mattingly said. “I know we’re better than this. I don’t think we’re going to be a great offensive team, but I know we’re better than this.”Robert Stephenson (1-0) got the victory in relief of starter Sonny Gray, who finally got a run but still couldn’t get a win because of an injury.Gray grew up a Reds fan and attended his first major league game at Great American. The Reds obtained Gray in a trade with the Yankees after he agreed to a deal adding $30.5 million from 2020-22. Cincinnati was blanked 5-0 and 2-0 in his first two starts.Miguel Rojas’ line drive hit Gray on the left calf in the second inning. Gray limped around the mound, threw a few practice pitches, and stayed in the game for two more innings before leaving. It’s unclear whether he’ll have to miss a start.“It was a great series for us,” Gray said. “We needed to come back home and win some games.”Joey Votto had a pair of opposite-field singles against an infield shift that figured in both of Cincinnati’s rallies, including an RBI in the fifth.TRAINER’S ROOMMarlins: Catcher Jorge Alfaro won’t change how he sets up behind the plate to avoid being hit. He was conked in the head in each of the first two games of the series by batters’ follow-through on a swing, leaving him momentarily stunned. “I like to be close to the plate,” he said Thursday.Reds: Outfielder Phillip Ervin will be Cincinnati’s extra player for a two-game series in Mexico against the Cardinals. Teams are allowed to bring an additional position player for the series.RUNNING INTERFERENCEMiami’s Lewis Brinson struck out in the second and was called for interference, resulting in a double play. Brinson stepped on the plate after his swing, interfering with catcher Curt Casali’s throw to second base as Miguel Rojas tried to steal. Rojas was called out, too.COMING UP EMPTYBrinson fanned four times on Wednesday night and two more times on Thursday.THINGS UNRAVELEDLopez allowed only four singles over the first four innings. The Reds put together a walk, Votto’s RBI single and Puig’s two-run double, all with two outs in the fifth.“I started having trouble with my breaking ball and changeup,” Lopez said . “I felt like I was yanking my changeup a little bit instead of just letting it go and letting the natural movement work.”UP NEXTMarlins: Sandy Alcantara (1-0) faces Philadelphia’s Jake Arrieta (1-1) as Miami begins a nine-game homestand.Reds: Have a day off in Monterrey before playing the Cardinals at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey on Saturday. Tanner Roark (0-0) will oppose Adam Wainwright (1-0).

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