HAVANA — The Trump administration is moving to end a deal allowing Cuban baseball players to sign contracts directly with Major League Baseball organizations. The change again will require Cuban players to cut ties with their national program before signing.

The Treasury Department told MLB attorneys in a letter Friday that it was reversing an Obama administration decision allowing the major leagues to pay the Cuban Baseball Federation a release fee equal to 25 percent of each Cuban player’s signing bonus. The decision made public Monday appears to make the MLB-Cuba deal unworkable by eliminating the payment mechanism, similar to one MLB has with leagues in China, Korea and Japan.

“The U.S. does not support actions that would institutionalize a system by which a Cuban government entity garnishes the wages of hard-working athletes who simply seek to live and compete in a free society,” National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said. “The administration looks forward to working with MLB to identify ways for Cuban players to have the individual freedom to benefit from their talents, and not as property of the Cuban state.”

The MLB and Cuba engaged in intense negotiations on a player-transfer deal through the Obama administration’s two-year effort to normalize relations with Cuba but the deal was only finalized after Donald Trump took office pledging to roll back Obama’s policy. Opponents of normalization inside and outside the administration argued for its cancellation as soon as it was announced, and appear to have now succeeded.

U.S. law prohibits virtually all payments to the Cuban government under the 60-year embargo on the island but MLB argued that the Cuban Baseball Federation, which oversees all aspects of the sport on the island, was not formally a part of the Cuban state.

Opponents called that argument ridiculous given the tight control the highly regimented government maintains over virtually every aspect of life in Cuba.

YANKEES: Pitcher Luis Severino is returning to New York to have more tests on his injured right shoulder

Manager Aaron Boone said Severino isn’t where he wants to be and the team wants an examination to determine why he isn’t progressing as expected. Severino was supposed to start on Opening Day but has been out since being scratched with right shoulder inflammation from what would have been his first spring training appearance March 5.

NATIONALS: Manager Dave Martinez plans to use struggling reliever Trevor Rosenthal in “lower pressure situations” until the former All-Star closer has some success.

GIANTS-TWINS: First baseman/outfielder Tyler Austin was traded to San Francisco from Minnesota for minor league outfielder Malique Ziegler.


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