Wall Street Journal: No MLB players to Venezuelan league

Major League Baseball will not allow its players to play in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League this coming winter while determining how to follow the Trump administration’s new economic sanctions on Venezuela, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing several people familiar with the matter.

The ban affects major- and minor-league players, the people told the Journal. It will not impact Venezuelan players traveling back to the country during the off-season, and was communicated by MLB to teams starting on Thursday, the paper reported.

The league’s decision comes on the heels of President Donald Trump banning Americans from doing business with President Nicolas Maduro’s government by expanding economic sanctions on Venezuela earlier this month.

The executive order freezes assets of the government of Venezuela and associated entities and prohibits economic transactions with it, unless specifically exempted. Exemptions include official business of the federal government and transactions related to the provision of humanitarian aid.

The Venezuelan state-owned oil company heavily sponsors the nation’s baseball league, which has taken a hit from the recent political instability, the Journal reported. The MLB has shuttered team academies and sharply reduced its scouting presence in Venezuela, where some of its prospects have consistently played for additional winter practice, according to the paper.

This is not the first time that Trump’s foreign policy has impacted America’s pastime abroad. The Trump administration canceled a deal in April that made it easier for Cuban baseball players to compete professionally in the United States — a decision that swiftly drew criticism from the Cuban Baseball Federation.

CNN’s Paul LeBlanc, Allie Malloy and Patrick Oppmann contributed to this report.