14ymedio, Havana, 6 April 2023 — Yasiel González was one of the eight players who did not appear a month ago on the list presented at the Pernik Hotel by the Cachorros de Holguín team for the 62nd National Series of Cuba. A journalist based in the United States, Yasel Porto, reported on Wednesday that the 26-year-old athlete resigned from Cuban baseball “without confirming the reasons.”
González has been seen in the stands of the Calixto García stadium supporting his former teammates. According to the Facebook site “Colada Power,” the baseball player from Gibara wanted to leave the sport because of “the low salaries.”
Porto stressed on his social networks that behind the departures of several players and the desertions are “the material conditions within a tournament that grows weaker every day” and where the players of the National Series receive an average of 3,500 Cuban pesos (145 dollars), “a very low figure, which is not enough for almost anything” in a country where the monthly minimum wage is 2,100 pesos (87 dollars).
The figures from 2020 for the players on the Island depend on their category. A member of the national pre-selection who participates in the National Series receives 3,525 Cuban pesos (156 dollars) monthly; while a player from the Reserve of the National Pre-selection and the National Series receives 2,400 pesos (100 dollars), according to Play-Off Magazine.
The tournament is “managed under the amateur concept,” a source told 14ymedio. “There are baseball players with professions, so what they do is ask for a sports license and the Government covers that amount.” To the money they receive are added the diets they are given and what they get from the products that are shared that they can “sell on the left [under the table],” an example of these being soft drinks.
Like Yasiel González, at the beginning of March, Rafael Viñales decided not to participate any longer with the Leñadores de Las Tunas. “The disappointment of not participating in the World Classic” and his current economic situation led him to leave baseball, according to journalist Gretel Yanet.
“Athletes begin to realize that their salary does not give them enough to support their families or they have housing and transportation problems, like everyone in the country. Then they begin to see other possibilities outside,” warned Juan Charles Díaz, the coach in the pre-selection of Vegueros, in February.
Díaz was clear: “Many athletes are leaving because there is no insurance and they do not have their problems solved.” Figures from journalist Francys Romero indicate that last year at least 120 Cuban players left the Island in various ways.
Others take advantage of the trips to not return. Cuban baseball player Iván Prieto, who decided not to return to Havana after his participation in the World Classic, signed his contract with the Mexican team of the Campeche Pirates last Tuesday. The agreement was announced by the Leona Sports agency, which represents the catcher, and according to the habanero Carlos Pérez, he has signed for the 2024 season.
A few days ago Prieto told Cuban Pelota that he decided to leave the Island because he saw that his “career was stagnant” with the current level of the National Series. “The decision was first because of sports issues, because I want to improve myself and prove myself in a higher level of baseball,” said the athlete.
This native of Holguín made the decision not to return to Cuba after being in the United States. “I thought about it, I analyzed it, I talked about it with my family and decided to make the decision,” in search of the dream that “everyone has, which is to play at the highest level in baseball.”
Prieto defended the teams of Holguín and Granma in seven National Series. Among his statistics, an offensive line stands out with an average of .287, with 36 doubles, a triple and 17 home runs.
He was the third catcher of the Cuban team in the West Palm Beach Pre-Olympics of 2022, and after his decision he became the first player to stay within the framework of a World Classic.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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