Japan has won both World Baseball Classic tournaments, but unhappiness over how the merchandising and sponsorship revenue is split up has the back-to-back defending champions threatening to boycott the 2013 games.
Japanese players’ association chairman Takahiro Arai told the Associated Press that they first told WBC organizers of their demands “a year and a half ago … but we have yet to get a response, and since it appears one is not coming we are forced to take this stance.”
Of course, the Associated Press also points out that Japan made similar threats to boycott the 2009 tournament “but eventually took part.”
Adding to the potential drama is that Japan is scheduled to host the first-round of the tournament, which will take place in March.
The Braves released veteran infielder/outfielder Jose Bautista on Sunday, per a team announcement. Right-hander Lucas Sims was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett in a corresponding move.
Bautista, 37, was recruited by the Braves in mid-April as a potential third base option. He inked a minor league deal with the club and lasted just 12 games in the majors, during which he batted a meager .143/.250/.343 with three extra-base hits and a .593 OPS across 40 plate appearances. While he isn’t too far removed from his last productive season in the big leagues — he collected 40 home runs, a .250 average and 5.3 fWAR with the Blue Jays in 2015 — his power has been noticeably declining over the last three years, and it’s clear the Braves don’t have enough time or opportunity to wait for him to get his groove back.
Without Bautista, Johan Camargo is expected to handle the hot corner on a daily basis. The 24-year-old infielder is working through his sophomore season at the major league level and entered Sunday’s game batting .226/.368/.403 with six extra bases and a .772 OPS in 76 PA. General manager Alex Anthopoulos acknowledged that top infield prospect Austin Riley could also get a shot at playing third base sometime in 2018, though the club has no current plans to promote him from Triple-A at the moment.