Cubans join the Ottawa Champions team roster next season in the independent Can-Am League
The national commissioner of baseball in Cuba, Heriberto Suarez, announced in mid-May – a day before the start of the new season of the Can-Am League – that the Ottawa Champions had confirmed on their official website the participation of the Donal Duarte and Alexander Malleta on the club’s roster.
As published in the digital portal of the franchise, owner Miles Wolff said “We are very pleased that the Cubans have confidence in our league to show their talent. We believe that with the tour of the National Team and incorporating Malleta and Duarte will increase attention wherever they play.”
The partiicipation of Cuban players sets a political precedent that is in contrast to Major League Baseball’s restrictive practice regarding Cuba. Citing U.S. sanctions against Cuba, Major League Baseball (MLB) still forces Cuban players to defect before joining its teams.
According to Can-Am rules, the salary cap for a rostered player is $4,000 per month, depending on the roster size.
This is a new chapter in the close relationship between Cuban baseball and the Can-Am League, which began to make themselves more visible with the arising from hiring of several players as professionals by the Capitales de Québec, which also raised the profile of the team. Further, the league is now being re-launched with the participation of a team from the island republic which will play 19 games in the independent league.
Along with the Ottawa Champions, the league includes the Jackals of New Jersey, together with the Miners of Sussex County, New Brunswick; the Boulders of Rockland; and the Aigles de Trois-Rivieres.
Both Malleta and Duarte will face the Cuban national team on June 17, 18 and 19. It debuts on June 9 against the Capitals with a series of four challenges. By then, if the already announced contracts are confirmed, they would align in the Quebec nine with shortstop Yordan Manduley, third baseman Yurisbel Gracial and outfielder Roel Santos.
With a file from Raiko Martín, Juventud Rebelde, translated by ESTI