HAVANA, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Cuban athletes can now leave the country to play for professional leagues elsewhere, the government announced Friday.
The government announced the change in the state newspaper, Granma, The New York Times reported. It said Cuban players would still have to meet commitments at home.
The new rules are unlikely to lead to a flood of Cubans playing baseball in the U.S. major leagues with their government's blessing, the Times said. For one thing, the Cuban National Series, which runs from November to April, conflicts with spring training and the beginning of the U.S. baseball season, and Cubans making big money in the United States would not be able of repatriate much of their pay.
A number of Cuban defectors are now playing in the United States. Yasiel Puig, who left his homeland last year, is now with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Experts say Cuban players are more likely to head for Mexico, Japan, South Korea and other countries that have normal relations with Cuba.
"If what the Cuban government wants is for them to come to the U.S. and make millions and go back to Cuba, that is not going to work," said Roberto Gonzalez Echevarría, who teaches at Yale University.
He is the author of "The Pride of Havana," a history of baseball in Cuba.