While Team USA has a stacked roster for the World Baseball Classic, it is missing one of the best American baseball players in Aaron Judge.
The New York Yankees slugger just had one of the greatest seasons of all time, hitting a new American League record of 62 home runs and narrowly missing out on the Triple Crown.
However, the AL MVP opted out of next month’s WBC after signing a nine-year, $360 million contract to remain in the Bronx. He was also named the 16th captain in franchise history, the first since Derek Jeter, who played for the WBC in 2006 and 2009.
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«It would be an honor to represent my country and play in it», the judge told FOX Deportes. «But my main focus is what I can do here in New York and what I can do to bring a championship here. I think, especially after signing a nine-year contract, for me, the priorities are New York. Maybe inside four years.» way, hopefully I can still make the team and get a chance to play, but right now, for me, my focus is here.
«My focus is on New York and, especially being named captain, I didn’t want to miss any moment in spring training. There are so many young guys here that I’ve only seen on Twitter or prospect reports. I want to get a chance to be around of these young people and meet them and show them what we do here.
The United States won the last World Baseball Classic in 2017, the same season Judge hit 52 home runs en route to being named unanimous American League Rookie of the Year. Giancarlo Stanton was a member of that 2017 team and echoed the sentiments of his teammate.
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«I want to prepare for the season, and I just want to have a healthy season, really,» Stanton said. «It’s one of the most fun baseball experiences I’ve ever had, so I wouldn’t want to miss that unless there’s a bigger end goal I need to achieve.
«He had a wild offseason, a wild year,» Stanton said of Judge. «As successful as it has been, it affects you as well. Having a calm and relaxing spring, and making sure everything goes smoothly throughout the long year, is just as important as well.»
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Three Yankees (Venezuela’s Gleyber Torres, Nicaragua’s Jonathan Loáisiga and USA’s Kyle Higashioka) will play in the WBC. Néstor Cortés of the USA opted out due to a hamstring injury, and the Yankees turned down the request of Luis Severino, who is often injured, to play for the Dominican Republic.