Now that the United States and Cuba are getting all cuddly around the baseball diamond, it only makes sense that at some point the island nation should welcome back the stars who have defected in recent years. And what better occasion than next year’s World Baseball Classic? Could we see a Cuban lineup featuring Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes, and others?
Via Fox Sports:
“Everything is on the table,” Cuban baseball commissioner Heriberto Suárez said in Spanish, when asked about the possibility in Havana during this week’s historic trip by President Obama, Major League Baseball and the Tampa Bay Rays.
Suárez went on to explain that any such arrangement would need to be part of a new, overall working agreement among the Cuban and American governments, MLB and the MLB Players Association.
In the same article, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expresses willingness to work out a deal that would allow Cuban-born MLB players to compete for their nation of origin. In the first three WBC tournaments, the Cuban teams have excluded defected players.
It seems like the sides are a ways away from figuring this out, but we can certainly dream. So what would an all-defector Cuban lineup look like? Maybe something like this:
1. Jose Iglesias, SS
2. Yasiel Puig, CF
3. Yoenis Cespedes, CF
4. Jose Abreu, 1B
5. Kendrys Morales, DH
6. Jorge Soler, LF
7. Yulieski Gourriel, 3B
8. Yasmani Grandal, C
9. Adeiny Hechavarria, 2B
SP Jose Fernandez
RP Aroldis Chapman
Our Cuban Dream Team would also have Yoan Moncada, Alexei Ramirez, and Yunel Escobar in the infield; Yasmany Tomas, Rusney Castillo, and Leonys Martin in the outfield; and Rasiel Iglesias and Roenis Elias in the starting rotation.
Pretty darn good. And considering how depleted the Cuban league reportedly is these days, the WBC squad would probably benefit greatly from rostering even a few of these guys. Your move, Heriberto Suárez.