Tonight, the final rosters for the upcoming World Baseball Classic were announced, and several Chicago Cubs made the cut.
As expected, Javy Baez will be on Team Puerto Rico, and he could be manning second base opposite his friend and World Series nemesis, Francisco Lindor, at shortstop. Those two will probably be making some pretty sweet defensive plays (Cubs fans may be less familiar with Lindor’s ridiculousness, but, well, just picture Baez at shortstop). I say “could” be manning second base, because Puerto Rico also has to make room somewhere for Carlos Correa.
In a mild surprise – to me, at least – Hector Rondon will be pitching for Team Venezuela.
Normally, you get a little nervous seeing an important big league pitcher going in the WBC, given that it’s a highly-competitive environment, and arms aren’t always as warmed up as they need to be at that point in the year. However, you’re less concerned with relievers, and it’s worth pointing out that Rondon is probably going to be taking very thoughtful care of himself, given that he’s just two years away from free agency. In fact, given that Rondon is coming off an injury last year that sapped him of his productivity down the stretch, I see it as a positive that both he and the Cubs are good with him pitching in the WBC. Clearly, there are no concerns about his health.
Cubs outfield prospect John Andreoli (part of that quality depth at AAA Iowa) will be playing for Team Italy, and Cubs pitching prospect Erling Moreno will play for Team Colombia. Moreno, 20, was part of the Cubs’ big IFA class a few years ago (the one headlined by Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres), but shortly thereafter had Tommy John surgery. He’s back, and he’s quietly legit, so it’ll be interesting to see if he gets any high profile action in the tournament.
Four other Cubs minor leaguers are suiting up, all of them right-handed pitchers: Jim Henderson (Canada), Jhondaniel Medina (Venezuela), Miguel Mejia (Puerto Rico), and Mario Meza (Mexico).
The WBC kicks off the first week of March, when players will step away from Spring Training to play the games.