MLB bans players from Venezuelan winter league amid USA sanctions

25 Août, 2019, 01:38 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • Baseball fans showing their support of Venezuelan players as the Miami Marlins hosted the Cleveland Indians at Marlins Park in Miami this past April

Venezuela's professional baseball league, known by the acronym LVBP, received a $12 million sponsorship past year from state oil company PDVSA, which itself was targeted by sanctions in January.

Major League Baseball is banning players from participating in the Venezuelan Winter League in one of the first public repercussions of new US economic sanctions against the Venezuelan government.

The Venezuelan winter circuit is a popular destination for major league players looking to hone their skills during MLB's traditional offseason.

"MLB has been in contact with the relevant government agencies regarding the Executive Order issued by President Trump on Venezuela", the league said in a statement reported by ESPN Thursday.

According to ESPN's sources, the "murkiness" of the relationship between the Liga Venezolana de Beísbol Profesional (LVBP) and a government-run business prompted MLB to look into the move, which could impact dozens of major and minor league players who frequently participate in the league.

Four sources close to the Venezuelan league told Reuters earlier that MLB would not give permission for players to participate, attributing the move to USA sanctions.

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An LVBP spokesman said the league had not received any official communication from MLB. The Trump administration also sanctioned PDVSA earlier this year as part of a continuing effort to starve the Maduro administration of cash and support opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

Venezuela's Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The country has proved to be a hotbed of talent, with Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr.

While all of the concerns about the executive order could be mollified by an agreement between the United States and Venezuela - both countries on Thursday acknowledged recent back channel discussions - MLB's desire to abide by it comes at a moment when the league's worldwide dealings have been under scrutiny.

The Venezuelan Winter League has operated for 75 years.

Passan notes that the Justice Department is now conducting an extensive investigation into the league's Latin American business, including inquiries into the Braves, the Padres, and the Dodgers.

Major League Baseball teams can still sign Venezuelan players, but ESPN reports it's possible Maduro could retaliate for the embargo by prohibiting teams from signing players. Many LVBP players play, however, for MLB's hundreds of minor league teams. Another agent, who expected multiple clients to make up for below-minimum-wage minor league salaries by playing in Venezuela, said he hopes clients still can get jobs in the Dominican, Mexican or Puerto Rican leagues.

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