Winter meetings provide answers on WBC, All-Star Game hosts, inaugural MLB Draft lottery

Will Seiya Suzuki play for Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic?

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Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki has yet to announce his decision on the World Baseball Classic.

Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki has yet to announce his decision on the World Baseball Classic.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

SAN DIEGO — Hideki Kuriyama, Japan’s national team manager, couldn’t call whether Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki would decide to play for his country in the World Baseball Classic.

“I want him, and he wants to play for the team,” Kuriyama said through an interpreter on Tuesday at the winter meetings, “but there’s multiple factors and layers with that, talking with the club and talking about his health and preparing in the offseason.”

Suzuki didn’t have a normal spring training leading up to his first MLB season, and playing in the WBC would make for another unique lead-up to the regular season.

“I put myself in his shoes; I would have loved to play for Team USA,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “How cool is that? You’re going to get into the best competition in the world and be able to compete at a high level for your country. I would never want to take that away from everybody. You should play if that’s where your heart is. He’s our starting right fielder; he’s going to be in the lineup.”

Fellow Japanese MLB stars Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish already have committed to Team Japan for the tournament, strengthening the national team’s pitching. Suzuki has yet to announce his decision. The Cubs are prepared for his absence for the full length of the tournament.

Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman has already announced his commitment to Team Puerto Rico. Team Canada manager Ernie Whitt said the national team and Cubs reliever Rowan Wick shared “mutual interest.”

No WBC teams have filed official requests though the Cubs — 30-man rosters won’t be finalized until early February. But Team Mexico is in the position to have the biggest Cubs presence, with the team showing interest in players including pitchers Manuel Rodríguez and Javier Assad, first baseman Alfonso Riva and infielder Esteban Quiroz.

Cubs in running for the All-Star Game

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred described the number of cities interested in hosting a future All-Star Game as an “embarrassment of riches.” The Cubs are one of those teams in the running, along with the Red Sox and others.

The sites for three of the next four All-Star Games already have been established, with Seattle hosting in 2023, Texas in 2024 and Philadelphia in 2026.

Wrigley Field, which underwent renovations in recent years, hasn’t hosted the All-Star Game since 1990.

Marquez returns

After non-tendering lefty Brailyn Marquez last month, the Cubs are reuniting with their former top-ranked pitching prospect. They signed him to a minor-league deal, with a spring-training invite.

The hard-throwing Marquez made his highly anticipated debut in the Cubs’ final game of the 2020 regular season, But injuries and a bout with COVID-19 and myocarditis disrupted his development path. Most recently, Marquez underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in June.

“Brailyn’s been through a lot over the last few years,” general manager Carter Hawkins said. “Obviously, the talent and the upside is enormous. He just hasn’t pitched for a couple of years, and that’s been really hard on him. But we’ve done it together, and he wanted to continue to do it with us.”

Draft lottery

The inaugural MLB draft lottery was a bit anticlimactic for the Cubs.

Theoretically, they had a 1.1% chance of winning the No 1 overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft. Instead, they’re set to draft 13th.

The Pirates, an NL Central rival, secured the No. 1 overall pick, followed by the Nationals, Tigers, Rangers and Twins.

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