Trout, Betts, Ohtani among 8 MVPs in World Baseball Classic

AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez, File
Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Oct. 5, 2022.

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The United States’ Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, Japan’s Shohei Ohtani and Venezuela’s Miguel Cabrera and Jose Altuve are among eight Major League Baseball MVPs on rosters for next month’s World Baseball Classic.

Canada’s Freddie Freeman and the United States’ Paul Goldschmidt and Clayton Kershaw are on the rosters announced Thursday for the 20-nation tournament, to be played from March 8-21.

Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara of the Dominican Republic is also headed to the tournament, to be played in Tokyo; Taichung, Taiwan; Phoenix; and Miami.

“We see it as our best tournament ever,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said after an owners meeting. “Our pre-sale (is) really strong. Unbelievable group of players. I’m just looking forward to it as a great beginning to our season. Real marketing push surrounding those players and the event.”

The 600 players include 67 major league All-Stars, 35 of them from last season. There are seven Rookies of the Year: Trout, Pete Alonso and Devin Williams of the United States; Ohtani; Venezuela’s Ronald Acuña Jr.; the Dominican Republic’s Julio Rodríguez; and Mexico’s Randy Arozarena.

Players skipping the tournament include major league home run champion Aaron Judge, New York Yankees teammate Luis Severino of the Dominican Republic and Minnesota shortstop Carlos Correa of Puerto Rico.

Japan’s roster includes first baseman Munetaka Murakami, winner of the Central League’s last two MVPs; right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, winner of the Pacific League’s last two MVPs; along with San Diego pitcher Yu Darvish and Chicago Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki.

National team rosters included 331 players under contract to MLB organizations, including 186 on 40-man rosters

Former New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Céspedes is on Cuba’s roster, which includes active major leaguers for the first time. Among those are Chicago White Sox third baseman Yoán Moncada and outfielder Luis Robert, who are joined by outfielder Alfredo Despaigne, a former star in the Japanese major leagues.

South Korea’s roster includes outfielder Lee Jung-hoo, the Korean League’s 2022 MVP and a son of 1994 MVP Lee Jong-beom, along with Cardinals infielder Tommy Edman.

Israel’s roster includes Joc Pederson, Dean Kremer and Richard Bleier along with Ty Kelly, Ryan Lavarnway, Danny Valencia and Shlomo Lipetz of last year’s Olympic team.

Brothers Edwin Díaz of the New York Mets and Alexis Díaz of Cincinnati will play for Puerto Rico.

Cabrera and Mexican 41-year-old left-hander Oliver Pérez each will be in their fifth WBC.

Each team must include at least 14 pitchers and two catchers.

A pitcher is limited to 65 pitches during a first-round game, 80 in a quarterfinal and 95 in the championship round, though a limit can be exceeded to finish a plate appearance. A pitcher may not pitch in games on three consecutive days. There must be one day off after throwing 30 or more pitches and two days off after throwing 50 or more pitches.

Netherlands plays Cuba in the tournament opener.

First-round groups are:

A: Taichung, March 8-13 — Cuba, Italy, Netherlands, Taiwan.

B: Tokyo, March 9-13 — Australia, China, Japan, South Korea.

C: Phoenix, March 11-15 — Canada, Colombia, Mexico, United States.

D: Miami, March 11-15 — Dominican Republic, Israel, Puerto Rico Venezuela.

The top two teams in each group advance to quarterfinals, at Tokyo on March 15-16 and at Miami on March 17-18. The semifinals on March 19 and the final will be at Marlins Park.

This will be the fifth edition of the WBC following victories by Japan in 2006 and ’09, the Dominican Republic in 2013 and the U.S. in 2017. A scheduled 2021 tournament was called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.