Monday, February 6, 2023

Team USA World Baseball Classic roster: Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado committed for 2023 event

Following a pandemic-related hiatus, the World Baseball Classic will return in 2023. Dates, venues, and pools for the 2023 WBC were announced in July, and two qualifying events are set to take place later this year. The WBC itself will be held across the globe next March. It will be the fifth installment of the WBC.

The WBC is expanding to 20 teams for the first time, and the 16 teams that participated in the 2017 WBC have an automatic berth for 2023: Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, United States, and Venezuela. The remaining four spots will be decided in qualifying events.

Japan won the 2006 and 2009 WBCs before the Dominican Republic won the 2013 WBC. Team USA won the 2017 WBC and will look to defend its title next spring. Over the last few weeks Team USA’s roster has begun to take shape and it will continue to come together over the next several weeks. The rosters won’t be finalized until well into the offseason.

With that in mind, here are the players who have already committed to suiting up for USA in the 2023 WBC. The roster is subject to change right up until it is announced officially.

Mike Trout won’t just participate in the WBC next year, he was named captain of the team. USA GM Tony Reagins, who was the Angels GM when they drafted Trout, made the announcement at the 2022 All-Star Game. “I’m looking forward to playing for our country,” Trout said. This will be Trout’s first time playing in the WBC.

On July 25 it was announced Trevor Story was the second player to commit to playing for USA in the 2023 WBC, joining Trout. It will be Story’s first time participating in the WBC. It’s worth noting Story is a full-time second baseman now, though returning to shortstop for USA could be in the cards depending on who else commits to playing.

Part of the 2017 championship team, Nolan Arenado will return to USA in the 2023 WBC, it was announced July 30. Arenado went 5 for 31 (.161) with a double and a homer in the 2017 WBC but did have several big hits during USA’s run to the championship, plus he played his typically splendid defense at the hot corner.

Another member of the USA’s championship team in 2017, Paul Goldschmidt will return to help defend the title in 2023, it was announced on Aug. 6. Goldschmidt went 1 for 13 (.077) with three walks in five games in the 2017 event. He was primarily the backup first baseman to Eric Hosmer. This time around he is certain to be the starter and a middle-of-the-lineup run producer.

USA will have an entirely new set of catchers in 2023 — all three of their 2017 catchers are retired (AJ Ellis, Jonathan Lucroy, Buster Posey) — and JT Realmuto will lead the way behind the plate, it was announced on Aug. 9. This will be Realmuto’s first time playing in the WBC. A veteran catcher who can quickly adapt to catching unfamiliar pitchers is a must in this tournament and USA will have a great backstop in Realmuto.

It’s only fitting Trout and Bryce Harper will team up in the WBC seeing how they came up through the minors as highly regarded prospects at the same time. Harper will indeed play for USA, it was announced on Aug. 12. It will be his first WBC. It must be noted Harper is dealing with a ligament issue in his elbow, and if he needs surgery at some point, he would likely miss the tournament.

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