Despite some encouraging sounds about defectors possibly representing the country during the 2017 World Baseball Classic, earlier this year, president of the country’s National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation, Antonio Becali said that this won’t happen.
The island is sticking with the athletes and it is something that we keep as indissoluble principle according to Becali. So in fact the quote by Cuban baseball commissioner Heriberto Suarez that “everything is on the table and that the Cuban baseball federation has an open mind to the idea”, has been a hollow phrase.
The decision excludes big league stars like Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Abreu from participating in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
In the last decade Cuban baseball has declined in a rapid fashion, partially because of the defectors but also because the number of good players in the Cuban competition is too small to maintain all the teams that the Cuban Liga Nacional contains, resulting in a weaker competition.
During the three previous editions of the World Baseball Classic, Cuba was finalist in 2006 when it fell to Japan. In 2009 the team was eliminated in the second round as it was beaten by Japan twice. In 2013 the team was ousted by the Netherlands 7-6 in Tokio, when the Dutch advanced to the semi-final at AT&T Park in San Francisco.