Ronald Acuña Jr., MLB, Baseball United
Ronald Acuña Jr., a four-time MLB All-Star, will now be part of Baseball United's ownership group; he will also serve as an ambassador for the league Via

SEATTLE - Saudi Arabia's push to bring elite athletes to the Middle East continues to strengthen its position in the world of sports as the Saudi Baseball and Softball Federation reached a deal with Baseball United about a month ago, a partnership that will see Saudi Arabia host its own professional league and tournaments.

With the ambition of being a another option to the United States' Major League Baseball, Saudi authorities haven't wasted any time and have been able to add a great number of high-profile players to support the cause. The latest individual to invest in the new Saudi Arabian league is reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr., who will now own a minority stake in the league.

On top of his duties as an investor, Acuña will also serve as an ambassador to promote the league, its teams and events across his social media platforms, as well as in person events in the Middle East once the MLB season is over.

Acuña Jr.'s addition continues a trend that has seen 19 other former and current high-profile players. Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, Bartolo Colón and Hall of Fame members such as Mariano Rivera and Adrián Beltré joined the ownership ranks not that long ago. The Atlanta Braves' superstar will be the fourth player of Venezuelan descent to invest in the league, joining Felix Hernandez, Elvis Andrus, and Robinson Chirinos.

"I am truly grateful to be joining the Baseball United family as an investor, co-owner and ambassador. It's been fantastic seeing what they (Baseball United) have accomplished in the last two years," Acuña Jr. said. "Growing up in Venezuela, I always dreamed of making a big impact on the game of baseball. I'm very blessed to compete everyday with my teammates to do that for Major League Baseball and the Atlanta Braves, and I can't wait to help carry the game to new fans in the Middle East and South Asia with Baseball United," he added.

Baseball is the latest sport in which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has set its eyes on, following their huge investments in golf and soccer. In 2022, LIV Golf was able to lure some of the best golfers in the world to join its ranks, abandoning the PGA Tour. Financed by the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the new golf tour was seen as an attempt for the country to improve its public image through sports.

Golf was followed by soccer, with the Public Investment Fund changing the country's premiere soccer competition, allocation huge amounts of money for transfers. In a record-breaking Summer transfer window, Saudi Pro League teams spent close to $1 billion, acquiring more than 90 players from Europe's top five leagues.

A market with huge potential for the sport, Baseball United aired its inaugural showcase event in Dubai last fall, reporting that over 200 million households tunned in to the broadcast. According to reports, the league is scheduled to announce its future plans and expansion franchises this Summer, with the first full season projected to start during the Winter of 2025.

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