It is time. After far too much slacking on my part, it is finally here. My first actual roster projection for Team USA in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. This isn’t my talk of the “ideal” roster, as I have done previously, this is based on who may actually take part and who has actually committed.
Go below the jump for more.
Before, we begin, a few rules:
- Any player coming off a major injury or who has a history of injuries is unlikely to participate and so I will not include them unless they have specifically been confirmed. This is especially true for the pitchers.
- Players that will be on new teams are less likely to participate, but shouldn’t be completely ignored, with the exception of pitchers. Again, though, this can be overruled if the player has specifically been confirmed to take part.
- Teams are made up of 28 players, of which 13 of them must be pitchers and at least two of them catchers.
- The pitch count rules make relievers extremely important.
- Any players who have been confirmed to take part have been italicized.
Here we go:
Manager: Mark DeRosa
DeRosa was confirmed on Aug. 19.
Bench Coach: Jerry Manuel
Hitting Coach: Ken Griffey Jr.
Pitching Coach: Andy Pettitte
First Base Coach: Lou Collier
Third Base Coach: Dino Ebel
Bullpen Coach: Dave Righetti
The main coaching staff was confirmed on Aug. 23.
Catcher (2): J.T. Realmuto, Will Smith
Realmuto is confirmed. The USA went with two catchers in the 2017 WBC (Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy), and I figure they’ll do the same again. The guys missing the cut in my projection here are Sean Murphy (not as good at hitting), Travis D’Arnaud, and Adley Rutschman (unlikely to take part given this will be his first spring training for a full season).
First Basemen (2): Paul Goldschmidt, Pete Alonso
Both are confirmed. Who will get more playing time will probably depend on the team’s overall DH situation
Second Basemen (1): Trevor Story
Trevor Story, who is confirmed, is nominally going to be the main 2B for Team USA next spring. However, this is also the spot on the field where you are most likely to see one of the two guys who I project as Team USA picks for utilitymen starting.
Third Basemen (2): Nolan Arenado, Austin Riley
Arenado is confirmed, but I feel like Team USA will also select Atlanta’s Austin Riley. He’s swiftly become one of the biggest offensive threats in the game.
Shortstop (1): Tim Anderson
Don’t be surprised if you see Tim Anderson (who is confirmed) at shortstop for every single game of the tournament, although Story or one of the utility guys could fill in in a pinch.
Outfielders (5): Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Mookie Betts, Cedric Mullins, Kyle Tucker
Barring somebody pulling out or someone like Harper being used primarily as a DH, this is likely the final outfield for Team USA. It’s unlikely that Aaron Judge will take part given his free agency, anyway, although that could change if he resigns with the Yankees.
Utility (2): Jeff McNeil, Tommy Edman
Both of these guys would have shots at making the team at just second base, but their versatility at playing other positions makes them even bigger targets for Team USA to consider.
Starting Pitchers (4): Justin Verlander, Alek Manoah, Max Fried, Carlos Rodon
This is the hardest position slate to project, as starting pitchers are by far the most hesitant group to commit to play. So take this projection with an EXTREME dose of salt, especially for Verlander, since he may be on a new team next spring. Also, there are plenty of arguments for others taking the spots in general, so argue away.
Relievers (9): Josh Hader, Taylor Rogers, Ryan Helsley, Daniel Bard, A.J. Minter, Devin Williams, Brooks Raley, Evan Phillips
Both Hader and Rogers have fallen off a cliff recently, but as now I’m going to assume (perhaps foolishly) that they’ll be back to strength soon. If they aren’t, though, they’ll be off this list next projection. Anyway, this is basically a mix of closers with non-closing pitchers who have done well this season. Like with the starters, nobody has been confirmed yet so this is total guesswork.
Next Projection: Dominican Republic.
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