If all goes as MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred plans, Major League Baseball will play an exhibition game in Cuba next year.

“I can envision us playing games in Cuba,” Manfred told the Associated Press Sports Editors on Thursday.

The commissioner added, however, that at the present moment the league has no concrete plans to play in Cuba. That will depend on U.S. government policy, which recently softened when President Obama restored diplomatic relations with the communist country in December.

“I’m hopeful that the situation in terms of actual changes in federal policy clarifies in time to put us in a position to play some exhibition games in Cuba next spring,” Manfred said, adding that he hopes MLB can aid in establishing a fruitful working relationship between the two countries.

“We’ve made clear to the U.S. government that we are more than willing to play a role at a time that in their view is appropriate, and we think Cuba presents some really interesting possibilities for us going forward over the longer term,” he said.

The last time a major league baseball team traveled to Cuba was in 1999, when the Baltimore Orioles played Cuba’s national team. Before that, the last time two MLB teams met in Cuba for an exhibition game was in 1959, when the Los Angeles Dodgers played the Cincinnati Reds.

MLB, which currently has 17 Cubans in the league, not including Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez — who on Friday became a U.S. citizen — has plenty of reasons to want to establish better relations with the island country off the coast of Florida.

Cuban players have increasingly shaped the game. The Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore names a few:

White Sox designated hitter Jose Abreu earned last (season’s) American League Rookie of the Year. Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has won the past two Home Run Derbies. Outfielder Rusney Castillo signed a $72.5 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig received a nickname — “The Wild Horse” — from no less of an authority than Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully.

Better relations with Cuba would mean a steadier stream of the country’s top players coming to the United States. Gone would be the days of illegal entry via dangerous boat rides or harrowing tales of cross-border smuggling.

Even players who were able leave more peacefully have faced agonizing decisions. A 2013 law allows Cuban citizens to travel abroad sans exit visa, but there’s a catch — they must never come back. That means players such as Yasmany Tomas, who signed a six-season, $68.5 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, has no idea when he’ll see his family again.

“I would love to be there in the stands when he starts to play, to give him the support we’ve always given him,” said Tomas’s mother, Melba Rosa Bacallao, told the AP from Havana, where she still lives in the family’s two-bedroom apartment. “He always tells me that his daughter and we are his priorities, that he wants to get ahead in life for us.”

Manfred on Thursday said developing a freer means of travel for players is one of the rules he would most like to change.

“We’ve been in ongoing conversations with (U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which handles players who defect) and other relevant federal agencies about trying to figure out if there’s a more regularized set of rules that can be used for Cuban players, maybe even rules that would allow them to play here and return to Cuba,” Manfred said.

Likewise, changes to the current rules may allow Cuban players to participate in exhibition games in their home country should it happen.

“Our goal is to follow the lead of the federal government as this policy evolves and, hopefully, get to a situation where we have freer access to talent from Cuba,” Manfred said.