Cubs News

Seiya Suzuki headlines a long list of Cubs players who could take part in World Baseball Classic

1 year agoAndy Martinez

SAN DIEGO — Earlier in the week, Japan manager Hideki Kuriyama called it a “50-50” chance that Seiya Suzuki would play for his country at the World Baseball Classic next spring.

Suzuki made it a 100% chance.

The Cubs outfielder announced Wednesday that he’d be playing for Japan in the WBC via his social media accounts.

Kuriyama said the rules aren’t finalized yet, but it’s unlikely that position players will be allowed to be replaced between rounds, just pitchers. For Suzuki and the Cubs, that means he’ll most likely join the team ahead of pool play on March 9 and stay with the team through their run in the tournament.

Japan should make it through pool play — they’ll need to finish in one of the top 2 spots in a Pool B (hosted in Tokyo) that features South Korea, Australia, China and the Czech Republic. After that, they would play in the quarterfinals, also in Tokyo. The semifinals would be in Miami on March 19-20, with the championship on March 21.

Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said last month that he and the team would support whatever decision Suzuki came to — playing for Japan or spending a full Spring Training with the Cubs.

“In a perfect world, you’d be able to prepare completely for our season, but also represent his country and I think that’s the perfect scenario,” Hoyer said at the GM Meetings in Las Vegas. “But we’re supportive of whatever he wants to do.”

Here are some updates on other players who could represent their country at next year’s WBC:


Omar López has had a very successful coaching career in baseball.

But nothing compares to managing his national team on the biggest stage.

“For me, this is a dream,” the Astros first base coach said. “I never thought that at my age (45) this type of thing could happen to me.”

He could be doing it alongside a player who was with him as he grinded through the coaching ladder. In 2017, López managed the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League and one of his pitchers on that team was current Cub Adbert Alzolay.

“I think he’s a young man with a ton of talent and has everything to become a great pitcher in the big leagues consistently,” López said.

Alzolay hasn’t returned to Venezuela in many years, which makes the possibility extra special for the 27-year-old.

“If he hasn’t worn the national team jersey, he will feel that calor de venezolano — that Venezeulan heat,” López said. “We all want to that do at one point [and] do something positive for our country because our country deserves it.”

López and Venezuela will speak with the Cubs first about the possibility of Alzolay playing for them. If he does represent his country, the Cubs and Venezuela would speak about a potential role for him — be it as a starter or as a reliever. He’s shown the ability to do both in his time as a Cub.

“Alzolay is really committed to whatever and that’s appreciated greatly,” López said.


Cubs vice president of player development Jared Banner said last month that Miguel Amaya “should be ready to go for Spring Training” after recovering from a Lisfranc fracture.

He could be playing competitive games in March.

Panama manager Luis Ortiz said that Amaya is on their 50-man preliminary list and under consideration for the final roster, pending a green light from the Cubs.

Panama is in Pool A, with Chinese Taipei, the Netherlands, Cuba and Italy in Taichung Taiwan.


The Cubs’ largest representation could come in the form of team Mexico.

Four current Cubs players are on the 50-man preliminary list — pitchers Javier Assad and Manny Rodríguez, first baseman Alfonso Rivas and infielder Nick Madrigal.

Madrigal qualifies to represent Mexico through his Mexican heritage.

Dominican Republic

Christopher Morel, who had a breakout campaign in 2022, is on the Dominican Republic’s 50-man preliminary list. He faces a tough road to make an already-loaded team.

Julio Rodríguez, Juan Soto and Starling Marte could be the DR’s outfield. The infield is just as stacked, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., José Ramírez, Jeremy Peña and Manny Machado all possibilities to start. Mix in Wander Franco, Ketel Marte and Teóscar Hernández, among others, and Morel’s path gets tricky.

But his ability to play all over the diamond could help him.

“It’s a player with a lot of versatility,” Dominican Republic general manager Nelson Cruz said. “I think that we can’t ever count out anybody even though we have a ton of talent because we don’t know what can happen in the future.”

Puerto Rico/Canada

Outfielder Nelson Velázquez is on Puerto Rico’s preliminary 50-man roster. Reliever Rowan Wick is on Canada’s preliminary roster.

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