One restart problem the Atlanta Braves won’t have to worry about

How many Atlanta Braves players have gone home to wait out the delay? How many of them had to leave this country to do so?

Here’s a concern that might have set the Atlanta Braves on edge after Spring sites closed down in February: how many of their players could be stuck outside the country after going home?

The following is the list of names from the Braves 40-man roster of players born outside the United States:

  • Jasseel De La Cruz (Dominican Republic)
  • Mike Soroka (Canada)
  • Huascar Ynoa (DR)
  • William Contreras (Venezuela)
  • Ozzie Albies (Curaçao)
  • Adeiny Hechavarría (Cuba… though he’s not as likely to have traveled back there)
  • Ronald Acuña Jr (Venezuela)
  • Ender Inciarte (Venezuela)
  • Marcell Ozuna (DR)
  • Cristian Pache (DR)

(For those curious, Touki Toussaint is of Haitian descent, but he is All-American:  born in Pembroke Pines, FL).

That’s 25% of the roster, which jives with the MLB average of 27% from lists compiled in 2018 by Forbes’ researchers.

Granted – if there’s a 3 week ‘Spring Training 2.0’ session, that would be enough time for players to go through a quarantine period in traveling back to US soil, but they’d be unable to do any baseball activities during such a period.

But now any such concerns are gone, as the US Department of Homeland Security has cleared the way to allow professional athletes to travel freely to this country:

Homeland Security will exempt foreign professional athletes from President Trump’s strict coronavirus travel ban, acting Secretary Chad Wolf announced late Friday, saying the nation needs its sports competitions back up and running.

The article goes on to note that travel from Mexico and Canada is “severely constrained” for the general public, and there are outright bans to entry from a number of specific countries around the world.

While many countries noted above among Atlanta Braves roster members are not impacted by outright bans, their own home countries have imposed their own restrictions. Here’s a couple of examples:

  • Dominican Republic: national curfew that “prohibits all traffic and movement of people”
  • Canada: there remains a ban on non-essential travel across the shared US border, plus a14-day quarantine for those entering the country.
  • Venezuela: a nationwide quarantine was set to expire on May 12 (no further information), and new border curfews have been imposed.

So Canada remains the most specific problem for baseball. Mike Soroka would be the only Atlanta Braves player directly impacted there, but if the Blue Jays have any chance of playing in their own country, a waiver of the sort that the US DHS issued would have to be made… and word from various sources is that the Trudeau administration isn’t on board with that yet.

Next: With MLB teams needing money... expansion?

Thus this is just one more problem that has to be worked through to get baseball back. At least this one seems to be close to being ready to go.  Maybe that now puts pressure on the MLB/MLBPA to get an agreement soon?