Via Ben Badler: At some point late last year, MLB implemented a rule change that will slow down the signing process for Cuban players, possibly by as much as six months. Rather than a general unblocking license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which is not a written document and did not require the player to submit anything, they now need a specific license to sign. The new license requires a written application and an individual response.
“We are doing our best to quickly process license applications and it is our goal to respond in a timely manner,” said Jeff Braunger, the program manager at OFAC. MLB changed the requirement because of concerns about how some players were able to gain residency in a foreign country after defecting. Yasiel Puig gained residency in Mexico the same month he defected while current Yankees farmhand Omar Luis gained residency in Haiti despite living and working out in the Dominican Republic. It’s the right move on MLB’s part given the legal issues but it will drag out the signing process and delay the start of these players’ careers. Not that the Yankees pursue big money Cuban players or anything.