Three Nationals Who Could Represent Team USA At The 2026 World Baseball Classic
By Nick Meyers
The World Baseball Classic wrapped up in epic fashion Tuesday night in Miami as Team Japan outlasted Team USA 3-2 in what proved to be a final for the ages.
Team USA fell just short of repeating as the World Baseball Classic Champions as they were out-dueled by Shohei Ohtani and fiery pitching staff of Team Japan, who finished the tournament undefeated. You could not have written a better script to finish the game, as Shohei Ohtani was brought out of the bullpen for the save with a 3-2 lead. After surrendering a leadoff walk to Jeff McNeil, Ohtani got Mooke Betts to ground into a double play. That just left Ohtani's fellow Los Angeles Angel Superstar Mike Trout as the last hope for Team USA. With the count full, Ohtani got his teammate and Team USA Captain to swing through a slider for the final out of the game, securing the Championship for Team Japan.
Mike Trout had mentioned last month that he was 'excited' to potentially face his teammate Shohei Ohtani in the World Baseball Classic, giving the Japanese Ace high praise. Well, Trout got his wish. Now I am sure he understands why everyone he had talked to did not want to get in the box versus Ohtani. Perhaps Trout will get a shot at redemption in the next World Baseball Classic, to which he has already declared his participation.
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Rob Manfred announces World Baseball Classic will '100 percent' return in 2026.
With the commissioner confirming the WBC's return in just three years, one can't help but be excited coming off the heels of an electric tournament this year. The viewership numbers shattered that of even the 2022 World Series and the attendance numbers throughout the tournament were sellout crowds.
As a Nationals fan, it would be great to see some of our guys represent Team USA, and not just former our guys like Trea Turner and Kyle Schwarber, who both went yard in the final Tuesday night and were responsible for Team USA's sole runs. While the Nationals did have new Third Baseman Jeimer Candelario representing the Dominican Republic this season, and could potentially have Keibert Ruiz and Luis Garcia representing Team Venezuela in the future, they also have several options to potentially represent Team USA as they did in 2013 and 2017.
Historically speaking, the roster for Team USA has a lot of turnover from tournament to tournament. From 2013 to 2017, only 5 out of the 30 players returned. From 2017 to 2023, only 2 players returned from the Championship winning roster: Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Now Mike Trout has already said he will be back, but that still leaves at least 29 other available spots to fill. What National could follow in the footsteps of Gio Gonzalez, Ross Detwiler and Tanner Roark and play for Team USA on the biggest baseball stage in the world?