Major League Baseball is prohibiting its players from participating in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League this winter due to the United States-imposed embargo against the Venezuelan government, sources told Jared Diamond and Kejal Vyas of The Wall Street Journal.
"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, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. "MLB will fully adhere to the policies implemented by our government. With respect to the Venezuela Winter League, MLB will suspend its involvement in that league until it receives direction from the relevant agencies that participation by affiliated players is consistent with the executive order."
Both major leaguers and minor leaguers are reportedly included in the move. Venezuelan players, however, will still be able to return home during the offseason.
The decision is a result of President Donald Trump's executive order to freeze all assets from Venezuela last month, creating a full economic embargo. American-imposed sanctions against Venezuela - and President Nicolas Maduro - have escalated under Trump, but they date back to Barack Obama's administration.
Maduro assumed office in April 2013 following the death of Hugo Chavez. His presidency has been disputed since the beginning of 2019, with the results of Venezuela's 2018 presidential election being called into question due in part to low voter turnout.
Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional, which features state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA as a primary sponsor, is an eight-team league that all 30 MLB clubs use every winter to develop prospects and young players, or give playing time to veterans recovering from injuries.
Last winter, the league featured Jesus Aguilar, Franklin Barreto, Alberto Callaspo, Ezequiel Carrera, Willians Astudillo, Gregor Blanco, Yonathan Daza, and Dioner Navarro, among others.