The World Baseball Classic will return in 2023. MLB and the MLB Players' Association agreed to bring the global event back next year after canceling the 2021 tournament amid the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be a WBC in both 2023 and 2026 as part of.
At least one big name will take part in the 2023 WBC: Mike Piazza. The Hall of Fame catcher confirmed earlier this week that he will manage Italy in the tournament. Orioles slugger Trey Mancini will suit up for Piazza's club and is the first player known to have committed to the tournament. Piazza is trying to lure Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo and lefty Joey Lucchesi as well.
"We're not going to sneak up on anybody, but I was always a big fan of the Classic," Piazza, who lives in Italy most of the year, told Newsday's Tim Healey earlier this week. "I talked to a lot of guys who are interested. We want everyone healthy, nobody to get hurt, and want everyone to play well and enjoy international baseball, which I'm a fan of."
As planned in 2021, the WBC will expand from 16 teams to 20 teams in 2023. The 16 countries that participated in the 2017 WBC will be given automatic bids into 2023: Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, South Korea, United States. and Venezuela.
The remaining four teams will be decided with two double-elimination qualifier tournaments scheduled for September at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium in Arizona. Here are the qualifier pools:
- Qualifier 1: Brazil, France, Germany, Nicaragua, Pakistan, South Africa
- Qualifier 2: Czech Republic, Great Britain, New Zealand, Panama, Philippines, Spain
Stadiums in Japan, Taiwan, and the United States were scheduled to host the first round of the 2021 WBC. Ballparks in Mexico and South Korea have been used in the past as well. Venues for the 2023 WBC have not yet announced and rosters won't be finalized until after the 2021 MLB season.
The United States beat Puerto Rico in the 2017 WBC, the last time the event was played. Japan won the 2006 and 2009 WBCs, and the Dominican Republic won the 2013 WBC.