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.