April 9, 2019 / 12:43 AM / a month ago

MLB notebook: Trump administration cancels MLB-Cuba deal

The Trump administration won’t allow Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation to go forward with a deal that would have allowed Cuban players meeting certain requirements to play in the United States.

Apr 8, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester (34) pitches during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Post reported Monday that the deal, negotiated under the Obama administration but implemented four months ago, was rejected by the White House, which contended it was an illegal agreement with the Cuban government.

Under the deal, MLB teams could have signed Cuban players who met requirements of age and professional playing service. The players could have brought their families in-season and returned to Cuba in the offseason. Current Cuban major-leaguers who came to the U.S. include Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman and Yasiel Puig.

The agreement originally was brokered to allow Cubans to play in the United States without defecting and giving up their citizenship. Players could keep 100 percent of a signing bonus, with the MLB paying 25 percent of that amount to the Cuban Baseball Federation as a release fee.

—Chicago Cubs left-hander Jon Lester left his start in the top of the third inning due to left hamstring tightness, the team announced.

Lester apparently sustained the injury while running the bases in the bottom of the second inning of Chicago’s home opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lester hit a two-out RBI double against right-hander Jameson Taillon and slid into second, then later slid home to score but got up slowly.

Lester took the mound for the third inning and was pulled after giving up back-to-back singles to start the inning. The 35-year-old struck out four in two-plus innings, giving up three hits and one walk in Chicago’s 10-0 win.

—Taillon (0-2), who gave up six unearned runs and four hits, left after two innings and will be re-evaluated after he took at least a glancing blow to the head on a comebacker by Anthony Rizzo.

His faculties appeared normal upon an examination by a doctor, but Taillon will be re-evaluated, the Pirates announced.

—New York Yankees pitcher Luis Severino will undergo an MRI exam to diagnose the source of continued discomfort as he rehabilitates from a shoulder injury, according to multiple reports.

Manager Aaron Boone told reporters that Severino “didn’t feel great” after a long-toss session. The 25-year-old right-hander was diagnosed with inflammation of the rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder during spring training and was expected to miss the first month of the season.

—The San Francisco Giants acquired first baseman Tyler Austin from the Minnesota Twins and sent minor league outfielder Malique Ziegler in return.

Austin, 27, was on the Twins’ Opening Day roster but was designated for release or assignment Saturday after playing in two games, going 1-for-4. The New York Yankees sent Austin to Minnesota last July as part of the Lance Lynn trade. In 2018, he had 17 home runs and 47 RBIs between the two teams.

Ziegler, 22, was selected by the Giants in the 22nd round of the 2016 draft. In 143 minor league games in the organization, he had a .245 average with nine home runs and 47 RBIs. He will move from high Class-A San Jose to high Class-A Advanced Fort Myers.

—Free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel — a key contributor to the 2018 Boston Red Sox — will not be at Fenway Park when the World Series winners receive their championship rings in a ceremony on Tuesday.

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MassLive reported that Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said the two had talked, but the pitcher declined the invitation.

The seven-time All-Star rejected a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Red Sox in November, instead deciding to seek a long-term contract through free agency. The right-hander, who turns 31 next month, went 5-1 with 42 saves and a 2.74 ERA in 63 appearances last season for the Red Sox.

—Field Level Media

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