Jared Diamond and Kejal Vyas of the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Major League Baseball has banned all players who are employed in affiliated baseball from participating in the Venezuelan Winter League. The move is being made to comply with economic sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration earlier this year.
There’s a chance this could change, Jeff Passan of ESPN says that there have been back-channel discussions between the administration and the Venezuelan government that could lead to a deal, but for now, no dice. Venezuelan ballplayers are not barred from traveling home for the winter if they so choose, but Major League Baseball has interpreted the sanctions to mean that they cannot participate in the league, which begins play in October, mostly because the league is largely underwritten by quasi-public businesses. As such, support for the league is likely to be interpreted as support for the Venezuelan government.
The Venezuelan Winter League has operated for 75 years. It, along with the Dominican, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban and Panamanian winter leagues culminates in the annual Caribbean Series.
Ken Rosenthal and Josh Tolentino of The Athletic report that Rays starter Blake Snell has switched agencies, going from Apex Baseball to Boras Corporation. Snell is currently signed to a five-year, $50 million contract and will be under contract through 2023.
Snell found himself in hot water two weeks ago when he said on his Twitch stream that he wouldn’t risk his life to play baseball during a pandemic while receiving significantly reduced pay. Some described Snell as tone deaf for saying, “I gotta get my money. I’m not playing unless I get mine, okay?”
Boras represents many of baseball’s highest-paid players, including Gerrit Cole and Bryce Harper. Snell is not likely to win over any of the people he recently irritated by appearing to go after more money by hiring the highest-profile agent. What often goes unsaid is that players have a very limited window in which to use their elite athletic skills to make money.
Snell won the 2018 AL Cy Young Award, going 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA and a 221/64 K/BB ratio over 180 2/3 innings. He did not have nearly the same success last year, going 6-8 with a 4.29 ERA and a 147/40 K/BB ratio in 107 innings.