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Friday, June 14, 2024

MLB Looks To Pujols For Help With Talent-Rich Dominican Republic

  • Manfred appoints future Hall of Famer as a special assistant
  • Country is MLB's largest non-U.S. source of player talent, with Dominicans to earn more than $500 million this year
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball is turning to future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols to help in one of its most important — and problematic — international territories.

League commissioner Rob Manfred named Pujols, who completed a legendary 22-season playing career in 2022, as a special assistant focusing primarily on player relations and other issues in the slugger’s native Dominican Republic.

The Caribbean country is by far MLB’s largest source of non-U.S. player talent, with 104 Dominicans earning spots on 2023 Opening Day rosters, a figure 68% larger than second-place Venezuela. Those Dominican players will collectively be paid more than a half-billion dollars this season, led by San Diego outfielder Juan Soto’s $23 million salary.

But the country has long been a hotbed of corruption within its amateur player development, fueled in part by the strong lure of MLB as a ticket out of local poverty. Pujols’ presence could also revive MLB’s long-running efforts to implement an international draft.

Power Consultants

In addition to the consultant role, Pujols will work as an on-air analyst for the league-owned MLB Network starting Tuesday. Pujols joins a growing list of former MLB players holding consultant or staff roles with the league, including Ken Griffey Jr., Cal Ripken Jr., Joe Torre, CC Sabathia, and Raul Ibanez.

“He cares greatly about making a difference in our communities,” Manfred said of Pujols. “We are excited for Albert to join other former players who are doing important work for our sport.”

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