Yet another attempt at trying to make the World Baseball Classic a thing is upon us.
In all seriousness: I do enjoy the WBC when it comes around, shoutout to Green Day. It’s a fun way to break up the offseason and get guys back into a competetive atmosphere while enjoying other cultures of the game we all love. By the time it all wraps up on March 21, a full season of baseball will be even closer.
As we stand on the cusp of the international tournament, the rosters of the 20 qualified teams have been revealed—and wouldn’t you know it, members of the Boston Red Sox organization will be involved!
A note for all of your red-blooded, Rock Flag and Eagle lovin’ Americans: no Red Sox players made the final roster for Team USA, the defending champs. Trevor Story was initially invited to join the team, but his elbow had something to say about that.
Without further ado, your Red Sox representatives for the 2023 World Baseball Classic:
Dominican Republic: Rafael Devers
Third baseman and sunshine of my life Rafael Devers will be a part of the team that many are picking to win the whole shebanabang. La República Dominicana has an absolutely loaded roster from top to bottom, and having a very strong (and now, very rich) left-handed bat in the heart of the lineup could go a long way towards clinching the nation’s second WBC crown.
Puerto Rico: Kiké Hernández and Edwin Díaz
Everyone’s favorite goof is back to play for Puerto Rico, a team boasting another strong group of guys looking to bring a title to the island. After a 2022 campaign that never really succeeded at getting off the ground, Kiké should presumably get enough game time to get back into the swing of things. Here’s hoping he takes that opportunity to hit the ground running this spring.
Edwin Díaz (no, not the trumpet one—who will be coming out of the bullpen for Puerto Rico) also made the team. The 27-year-old infielder noted for his defensive prowess was recently signed by Boston to a minor-league deal after being in Houston’s system. After getting drafted by Oakland in 2013, he has yet to make his Major League debut.
Mexico: Alex Verdugo and Jarren Duran
A pair of lefty Boston outfielders will be representing America’s neighbor to the south. We know how solid of a producer Dugie can be, but it will be fascinating to take the temperature of Duran and see where he’s at while going against some stiff competition. There’s a chance that a hole in the Red Sox’s outfield opens up in 2023, and maybe a solid WBC showing gets Duran on the right track after a season to forget last year.
Team Mexico just needs to hope fly balls stay in front of him, though.
Japan: Masataka Yoshida
Samurai Japan’s roster is led by a guy by the name of Ohtani (not sure if you’ve ever heard of him) but Yoshi will also be a great option towards the top of a lineup for one of the tournament’s other big favorites. One of the newest members of the Red Sox, I’m confident in saying that not many people in the States have seen this guy play live—which is fine, of course.
Point being: the World Baseball Classic represents many of our first opportunities to see the outfielder in action. Strap in and enjoy the Macho Man, baby.
Israel: Richard Bleier
The southpaw reliever will join the bullpen of the team that was a tournament darling during the WBC’s previous iteration back in 2017. The soft-tossing groundball specialist, who was acquired by the Sox from Miami in exchange for Matt Barnes, could be an important factor in a (hopefully!!) much-improved Boston staff.
Colombia: Jorge Alfaro and Rio Gomez
Another new face in Boston, hair extraordinaire Jorge Alfaro will be back behind the dish for Team Colombia after making the cut in 2017. Watch for his defensive abilities as a catcher; with new base size and pickoff rules set to go into effect this Major League season, someone in the 96th percentile in pop time to second base according to Baseball Savant could be quite valuable to have.
Rio Gomez, another lefty pitcher and another Red Sox minor leaguer, also checks in to the roster. Last year at AA Portland, he logged 33 innings with a 6.55 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP. He is the son of the late ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez.
Venezuela: Norwith Gudino
Gudino, a right-handed pitcher, was another Red Sox winter acquisition signed to a minor league deal after being in San Francisco’s system. He posted an 8.87 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP across 47.2 innings in AAA last year.
Netherlands: Kenley Jansen (Maaaaaaybe?)
This one comes with a caveat: Jansen wasn’t included on the initial roster, but reports indicate that the closer could potentially join the Dutchmen if they make it to the semifinals of the tourney.
Per source, Kenley Jansen not planning to initially play for a Kingdom of Netherlands in @WBCBaseball. Might join team it reaches semifinals in Miami.— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) February 6, 2023
The Curaçao native could finally bring some stability to the back end of the Boston ‘pen going into 2023. The condition of his participation in the WBC isn’t a crazy one—the Netherlands have made the final four in two straight tournaments.