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.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.
Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.
Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.
Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.