Nov 30, 2009, 6:24 PM EDT
El Nuevo Herald is reporting that Nelson Diaz, an umpire for 26 years in Cuba, has defected to the U.S. and arrived in Miami on Sunday.
Diaz was behind the plate when Cuba sent a team to Baltimore for an exhibition against the Orioles in 1999. He also worked in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and the 2008 Olympics, but Cuba didn’t pick him for the 2009 WBC because of fears he would defect.
Based on his experience, Diaz is obviously qualified to join MLB’s umpiring roster, though it’s unclear if any spots are opening up over the winter. MLB has incredibly little turnover when it comes to umpires.