Beyond the Arizona Fall League, which concludes Nov. 19, and the various Winter Leagues, the next instance of noteworthy baseball being played comes in March when the 2017 World Baseball Classic begins.
Pools A and B will open the tournament on March 17, 2017, at the Tokyo Dome and Gocheok Sky Dome, respectively. Dodger Stadium is hosting the WBC semifinals and final for the second time in the tournament’s history. The games will be played March 20-22.
While the WBC has provided countless Major League players with an opportunity to represent their respective country, Team USA has struggled, if not failed, to assemble rosters with the same cache for the first three tournaments.
They hoped to turn a new leaf for 2017, implementing a new rule that permits rosters to be modified between rounds. The change no longer requires players to leave Spring Training for multiple weeks.
A preliminary roster of 50 players was submitted, and according to Joel Sherman of The New York Post, Clayton Kershaw has committed to representing the U.S., so long as health isn’t an issue:
When the process began, the US was hopeful of getting Harper, Trout and Kershaw on the roster because of their star power; Kershaw has said yes, health permitting.
Kershaw missed 75 days this season due to a mild disc herniation. After returning he maintained the back injury was not a lingering issue, and Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said surgery is not expected.
Kershaw presumably would not join Team USA until the semifinals or final at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles opens the 2017 season at home on April 3 against the San Diego Padres.
Team USA hired former Detroit Tigers skipper Jim Leyland to manage the club. MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre is the club’s general manager.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen plans to pitch for Netherlands in the WBC. Adrian Gonzalez joined Mexico for one weekend this past Spring Training to help guide them through the qualifying round.
It’s plausible Gonzalez will join Mexico in the WBC, and potentially be joined by Yasiel Puig and Julio Urias.
Puig acknowledged a willingness and desire to play for his native Cuba, but the country will not permit Major League players or anyone who has defected to represent them in the 2017 tournament.