While Major League Baseball hopes to return in 2020, it appears that a major international tournament that was set to play next year will be canceled.
According to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, the 2021 World Baseball Classic will not be played. The cancellation of the tournament happened as a result of baseball currently being shut down, as well as this summer’s Olympics being moved to 2021.
Baseball is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 2008, but, unlike the World Baseball Classic, will not feature MLB players. Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper has recently lobbied for major-league players to be permitted to play in the Olympics as a way to grow the game. Harper had previously played for United States national teams while he was an amateur, but has never competed in the World Baseball Classic.
Originally scheduled for March of next year, the 2021 World Baseball Classic was set to be the fifth time the tournament was played, with 20 countries participating.
The last World Baseball Classic took place back in 2017. The United States won the championship for the first time in tournament history. Pat Neshek was the only Phillies player from that year on the United States’ roster, while current Phillies Josh Harrison, Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson also played for the team.
As noted by Rojas, it could be a while before the next World Baseball Classic. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the MLB and the MLB Players Association expires in 2021, which means the two sides will have to make an agreement on when the next tournament could take place. This could ultimately push the fifth World Baseball Classic to 2023 or later.
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