Bartolo Colon, Robinson Canó, Pablo Sandoval among ex-MLBers joining Dubai-based league

Bartolo Colon, Robinson Canó and Pablo Sandoval are among several notable, older former major league players selected Monday in the inaugural draft of a Dubai-based baseball league.

The 50-year-old Colon, 40-year-old Canó and 37-year-old Sandoval headlined picks by teams in Baseball United, the first pro baseball league in the Middle East and South Asia. Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons and Steven Moya were also among those selected.

Canó, an eight-time All-Star, went sixth overall to the Dubai Wolves, one of four Baseball United teams slated to begin play next fall in the cricket-mad region. The Karachi Monarchs, Mumbai Cobras and Abu Dhabi Falcons are the others. They will also compete in an All-Star showcase next month at Dubai International Stadium.

The league's investors include Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera and Barry Larkin. Kash Shaikh, president and CEO of Baseball United, told The Associated Press in May that the league will own the initial four teams, with four additional teams to be unveiled next year. He hopes the teams can eventually reap lucrative returns at auction. He also promised yet-to-be announced rules that would differ from Major League Baseball, including “things that you’d never see in other professional baseball leagues” to further appeal to cricket audiences.

The first pick of the draft by Mumbai was right-hander Karan Patel, who in 2017 became the first player of Indian descent taken in MLB's amateur draft by the Chicago White Sox. The 26-year-old spent this past season with the Billings Mustangs of the independent Pioneer League.

Colon, the 2005 Cy Young Award winner and a four-time All-Star, went 16th overall to the Monarchs. The right-hander last pitched in 2018 with the Texas Rangers to end a 21-year major league career. He announced his retirement in September during a ceremony with the New York Mets.

Canó, who played last season with the Atlanta Braves, batted .301 with 335 homers over a 17-year career that included a 2009 World Series title with the Yankees. He was one of several players to pose in his new uniform for posts on Baseball United's social media Monday.

Gregorious, 33, went third overall to the Wolves. The Netherlands-born infielder played 11 years in the majors including, 2019-22 with the Philadelphia Phillies after five seasons with the Yankees.

Sandoval, 37 and known as “Kung Fu Panda” during a 13-year career most memorable for helping the San Francisco Giants win World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014, was the fourth overall pick by the Falcons. The Venezuelan last played 69 games with the Atlanta Braves two years ago.

Shortstop Andrelton Simmons, 34, went four picks later to the Cobras. He won four Gold Gloves along with the Platinum Glove in 2013 for the National League while with Atlanta.

Moya, 32, was the second selection by the Monarchs. He batted .250 with five homers and 11 RBI with the Detroit Tigers from 2014-16.