Major League Baseball has decided to preclude affiliated players — both major and minor-leaguers — from participating in the Venezuelan Winter League, according to Jared Diamond and Kejal Vyas of the Wall Street Journal. The move was made in an effort to comply with the economic sanctions imposed by the United States earlier this year.
It isn’t immediately clear whether there’s still some hope of a change in the situation before the winter league launches in October. There have been some recent developments in the political situation that could have an impact, though there’s no indication that the relevant sanctions — those that largely bar U.S. individuals and businesses from economic interaction with Venezuela — are going to be lifted any time soon.
Per the report, the league is engaging with the U.S. government in a bid to understand just what it can and cannot do to comply with the sanctions. Notably, there will be no bar to Venezuelan players who wish to travel back to their home country. But it seems they and others (including, presumably, many players who are not United States citizens) will not be able to participate in game action.
MLB players participate in winter leagues in Venezuela and other locations through agreements involving the leagues, MLB, and the MLB Players Association. Just how the situation will proceed remains to be seen. The ongoing humanitarian crisis and political turmoil in Venezuela has obviously weighed heavily on players hailing from that nation. The situation has also presented difficulties for teams operating there, as Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic explored earlier this year (subscription link), impeding scouting and player development functions.