Yankees seek working agreement with China baseball

A contingent of executives from the New York Yankees will fly to China next week with the hope of concluding ongoing negotiations on a working agreement with the China Baseball Association. This could lead to the Yankees dispatching coaches and trainers to work with players in China, and perhaps, in years to come, beginning a baseball academy.

According to a major league executive who has been briefed on the organization's intentions, the Yankees -- operating in consultation with Major League Baseball -- have been in negotiations for seven months on this deal. The Yankees' goal is to get their brand into the world's most populated nation, and put themselves in position, down the road, to scout talent, while working with members of the CBA to improve the state of baseball in China.

"Everybody thinks that that is a great place to grow the sport
of baseball," Yankees president Randy Levine said Thursday. "There's a real appetite for
it. The Chinese want to move forward and expand their talents in
the game and really make it a well-known, very active sport."

Similarly, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays were the first teams to firmly establish themselves in the Dominican Republic, and benefited greatly. Nothing prevents other Major League Baseball teams from attempting to reach the same strategic alliance that the Yankees hope to soon formalize.

If the agreement is finalized, the Yankees "intend to make an investment in baseball in China," said the executive. "They intend to assign the coaches and trainers there for extended periods of time."

In addition, the Yankees will serve as host to representatives from the China Baseball Association in the U.S., giving them an opportunity to observe baseball operations here.

Yankees executives, including Levine, general manager Brian Cashman, and assistant GM Jean Afterman, also will visit teams in Japan as part of their travel to the Far East.

"I think the power of the Yankee brand all over the world is what's driving this," Levine said.

Buster Olney is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press also was used in this report.