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Athletics rumors: Hector Olivera clears major hurdle after Cuba policy change

Yoan Moncada and Andy Ibanez are both immediately eligible to sign, while Hector Olivera still needs to be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Second baseman Hector Olivera and other Cuban baseball players that have left Cuba cleared a major regulatory hurdle on Tuesday after Major League Baseball made changes to its Cuban baseball player policy, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.

For MLB to consider Cuban players eligible to work in the United States, Olivera and other Cuban defectors will have to submit "sworn affidavits to Major League Baseball stating they are residents of another country, have no intention of returning to Cuba and are not Cuban government officials."

Players additionally must be declared free agents by MLB separately from their eligibility to work in the United States. Olivera has yet to be declared a free agent by MLB, according to Baseball America's Ben Badler.

The previous policy required players to obtain a "specific license" from the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which enforces economic sanctions between the U.S. and Cuba. The specific license would be issued after an OFAC investigation. Instead, OFAC recently declared that they would no longer perform investigations for persons eligible for a "general license," which placed the onus on employers to ensure that the Cuban nationals they employ do not intend to return to Cuba.

The 29-year-old Hector Olivera held an open showcase at the San Francisco Giants' complex in the Dominican Republic on January 21 and 22, where the Athletics sent a large contingent. Olivera has been holding private workouts for teams since then. Speculation about Oakland's interest in Olivera waned for the four days between trading for shortstop Yunel Escobar and super-utility-man Ben Zobrist and trading Escobar to the Washington Nationals for reliever Tyler Clippard.

Olivera, 29, is not subject to the international free agent spending limits, as he is a Cuban player with at least three seasons in the Cuban Series Nacional and is older than 23. Baseball America ranked Olivera the number six player in Cuba prior to his defection.