First Yu Darvish, then Hisashi Iwakuma, then Norichika Aoki and now Ichiro Suzuki and Hiroki Kuroda are giving the WBC a miss:
Ichiro Suzuki has told Japanese baseball officials he has decided not to take part in next year’s World Baseball Classic. Suzuki said Monday, “I appreciate being asked to play for Japan again at the WBC, but after the second tournament in 2009 I never considered playing in the third event” … Yankees’ pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, also a free agent, also said Monday he would not play in the WBC.
It’s not like Japan has a shortage of baseball talent or anything, but it is notable just how many of the big names who went stateside aren’t playing in the WBC.
Update (5:55 PM ET): It’s official. The Mets have optioned Phillip Evans to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Bautista on the 25-man roster. Bautista will be available for Tuesday’s game against the Marlins.
SNY’s Andy Martino reports that the Mets are close to a deal with free agent Jose Bautista. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as the Mets were rumored to be interested in him on Monday, a day after the Braves released him.
Bautista, 37, struggled to a .593 OPS in 40 plate appearances with the Braves. He’s coming off of his worst season as a regular, as he hit .203 in 157 games last year with the Blue Jays.
Bautista mostly played in the outfield for the Jays, but played third base for the Braves. The Mets need depth at both third base and in the outfield due to injuries to Todd Frazier, Yoenis Cespedes, and Juan Lagares.
It will be interesting to see who loses their roster spot to accomodate Bautista. I suggested earlier it should be Jose Reyes.