Baseball United — Dubai's brand new professional baseball league — had its inaugural draft on Monday night. Multiple former MLB standouts were selected, who will now be heading to the United Arab Emirates for the Baseball United season's start next month.
Some of the former MLB superstars who'll be playing in Baseball United — which is the first-ever professional baseball league in the Middle East and South Asia, and will include four teams based in India, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates — are Robinson Canó, Pablo Sandoval, Bartolo Colon, and Didi Gregorius.
Gregorius — the Netherlands-born infielder who played 11 years in the MLB, including five seasons with the Yankees and four with the Phillies — was selected third overall in the Baseball United Draft, to the Dubai Wolves.
The Wolves also drafted Robinson Canó (who is also a Baseball United co-owner) with the sixth overall pick. Canó, an eight-time MLB All-Star, is considered one of the best second basemen of the 21st century. He batted .301 with 335 homers over a 17-year career, which included a 2009 World Series title with the Yankees.
One pick later, the Abu Dhabi Falcons drafted Pablo Sandoval, a three-time World Series winner with the San Francisco Giants and two-time All-Star.
Another former MLB All-Star selected was Bartolo Colon, who went 16th overall in the Baseball United draft to the Karachi Monarchs. Colon is a four-time MLB All-Star, a 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner, and racked up 247 wins and 2,535 strikeouts across 21 MLB seasons. "Big Sexy", as Colon is commonly called, is one of the MLB's most beloved players.
Landing big name players such as these four former MLB standouts is an impressive feat for Baseball United; especially considered that the league has never played a game before. According to ESPN, the league also has serious support behind it, with investors including Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera and Barry Larkin. Although Baseball United currently has four teams, the hope is that four more clubs will be added next season.
Kash Shaikh, president and CEO of Baseball United, told the Associated Press that the league will feature rules that, "would differ from Major League Baseball", including "things that you'd never see in other professional baseball leagues" to appeal to cricket audiences.
While it's highly unlikely that Baseball United will ever compete with the MLB, in terms of attracting the world's premiere baseball players, if the newly-formed league's first season is successful, then perhaps it will continue to be a lucrative landing spot for former MLB All-Stars whose best playing days are behind them.
What's for sure is that, after attracting players like Robinson Canó and Bartolo Colon, Baseball United now has the baseball community's attention.
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