Major League Baseball must let the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays sign Cuban baseball players directly from their country if it wants to receive tax breaks in Florida, according to a new law signed by Governor Rick Scott on Friday.
MLB rules require Cuban players to enter the amateur draft if coming directly from that country because of the United States’ trade embargo on the island nation. That reduces the chance of Cuban players landing large contracts, forcing them to establish residency in another country in order to freely negotiate with MLB teams.
Florida’s new law provides up to $13 million per year in sales-tax rebates for professional sports teams, with no more than $3 million to a single team.
The change was prompted by Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, among others. Puig was smuggled out of Cuba and into Mexico before signing with the Dodgers in 2012.