Robinson Canó, Bartolo Colon and Didi Gregorius are among several former major leaguers who were selected in the inaugural draft of a Dubai-based baseball league.
The league, which was established by Baseball United and sees former players Mariano Rivera, Barry Larkin, Adrián Beltré, and Félix Hernández on its executive team, as well as Elvis Andrus and Ryan Howard among its owners, will begin play next fall.
Former MLB players Pablo Sandoval, Andrelton Simmons, Jair Jurrjens, and Rusney Castillo were also drafted out of a pool of 200 players from over 30 countries.
In total, 64 players were selected to help fill the league’s four teams —the Mumbai Cobras, Karachi Monarchs, Dubai Wolves, and Abu Dhabi Falcons. Gregorius and Canó were the third and sixth overall picks by the Wolves, while Colon went 16th overall to the Monarchs.
Karan Patel, a pitcher who became the first player of Indian descent to be drafted by an MLB team when he was selected by the Chicago White Sox in 2017, was picked no. 1 overall by the Cobras.
Former major leaguers don’t just make up league executives and players, Chris Sabo (Cobras) and Miguel Tejada (Monarchs) are two of the four managers, while Nick Swisher (Falcons) will be an honorary general manager.
The teams will play in an All-Star showcase in November at Dubai International Stadium, one year before the league officially begins.
Colon, 50, last pitched in the majors in 2018 with the Texas Rangers. The 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner played 21 years with 11 teams and announced his retirement in September. Canó, who turned 41 on Monday, suited up for nearly 2,300 games with five teams and last played during the 2022 MLB season. Gregorius, 33, signed a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners in June, but opted out of his deal after 25 games at Triple-A.
Baseball United president and CEO Kash Shaikh told The Associated Press in May that four more teams will unveiled in 2024. The league also plans to appeal to the cricket-mad region by introducing “things that you’d never see in other professional baseball leagues” in regards to rules that will differ than what we currently see in MLB.
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