SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Two Cuban baseball players in Puerto Rico for the Caribbean Series apparently have abandoned their team mid-tournament, Cuba’s team said Wednesday.

The missing players were identified as 19-year-old pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez and 29-year-old shortstop Dainer Moreira. Gutierrez had not yet played in the series, while Moreira batted in Cuba’s only run against the Dominican Republic.

Cuba was scheduled to play against Puerto Rico Wednesday night after losing its first two games against the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

The players’ apparent decision to abandon their team to stay on American soil comes amid moves to improve U.S.-Cuba relations, with the MLB on Tuesday eliminating its requirement that Cuban players obtain a license from the U.S. government before they are eligible to sign with big league teams.

Some Cuban athletes have previously used international competitions as an opportunity to stay behind. Puerto Rico is an American territory, and Cubans who make it to the island generally can apply for legal U.S. residency.

If they stay in Puerto Rico, the players would be subject to baseball’s amateur draft. But if they establish residence outside the U.S. or Canada, they can be free agents and get more lucrative contract offers.

CANADIAN HALL OF FAME: Former big leaguers Carlos Delgado, Corey Koskie and Matt Stairs and longtime Montreal manager Felipe Alou were elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and will be inducted with sports writer Bob Elliott on June 13.

ORIOLES: Left-hander Zach Britton avoided salary arbitration, agreeing to a $3.2 million, one-year contract. Britton became Baltimore’s closer last year and was 3-2 with a 1.65 ERA and 37 saves in 41 chances.

WHITE SOX: The team requested waivers on outfielder Dayan Viciedo for the purpose of releasing him. Viciedo likely won’t be out of work for long. The 25-year-old had 21 homers in 145 games last season, though he batted only .231.

ROCKIES: Free agent right-hander Kyle Kendrick agreed to a $5.5 million, one-year contract.

The 30-year-old is 74-68 with a 4.42 ERA in eight seasons, all with Philadelphia.

PADRES: Mark Prior and Moises Alou, forever linked by the Steve Bartman incident that helped deny the Chicago Cubs a trip to the 2003 World Series, have been reunited as roving minor league instructors with San Diego.

Alou will be a special assistant for player development and Prior will be pitching instructor.