Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits an RBI triple in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Philies at Dodger Stadium on April 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
In Los Angeles, Yasiel Puig is a mysterious, Louisville-slugging demigod. In Florida, he’s a legislative linchpin.
On Monday, four Florida state senators added an amendment to their version of a bill (SB 1216) that would force Major League Baseball to change its policy on how it handles Cuban players if the league wants to be eligible to receive state subsidies.
The Senate has yet to vote on the revised bill.
The House passed its version, HB 7095, April 25 with a 93-16 vote.
MLB would be lobbying with other sports for a piece of the annual $12 million the state would allocate for stadium renovations or construction projects.
MLB's current rules allow Cuban players to come directly to the US and enter the amateur draft, however that hurts their chances at landing a big pay day.
Players in foreign countries other than Cuba can negotiate with teams before signing a contract, which is why the majority of Cuban players establish residency in a different country first in order to sign multi-million-dollar contracts.
An example is Puig, whom the Dodgers signed in 2012 to a seven-year, $42 million contract.
According to the Associated Press, Florida House representatives Matt Gaetz, R-Okaloosa, and Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami-Dade, first inserted the language into their bill after reading about Puig’s story in a Los Angeles Magazine article.
The Dodgers and Puig have both refused to comment on the validity of the magazine's story.
If the bill passes, it would force MLB to comply in a number of ways, such as:
In that same AP report, the Major League Baseball Player’s Association said it plans to work with MLB on the issue.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said his office will also work with the MLBPA on the situation, but it disputes the lawmakers premise that Cuban players defect solely through illegal means, according to a Tampa Bay Times report.