Although Team USA put together a star-studded lineup for this year's World Baseball Classic, there was one player noticeably absent: 62-homer man and reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge. The New York Yankees slugger skipped the WBC to focus on spring training after being named captain by owner Hal Steinbrenner, Judge told Fox Sports earlier this spring.
The next WBC is scheduled for 2026 and, when the time comes, Judge said he will consider suited up for Team USA, but remains noncommittal. Here's what Judge told the New York Post about the 2026 WBC:
"It's tough to say now since it's three years down the road," Judge said. "We'll see when the time comes. It's a fun, amazing event. It captivates the world. You've got kids everywhere staying up late watching these games, and you've got the best players in baseball competing. We'll see where we are when the time comes."
Team USA's outfield was not lacking talent this year. Mike Trout and Mookie Betts played every WBC game, and the left field rotation featured Cedric Mullins, Kyle Schwarber, and Kyle Tucker. Great players, all of them, but they're not Judge. Perhaps Judge could have swung the championship game in USA's favor seeing how it was a one-run game and Mullins went 0 for 4 in left field.
Judge, 31 in April, has mostly avoided high-profile events to focus on his Yankees duties the last few years. He has not participated in the Home Run Derby since winning it as a rookie in 2017, for example. The Yankees re-signed Judge to a mammoth nine-year, $360 million contract over the winter, and named him the 16th captain in their history.
Team USA lost the WBC championship game to Shohei Ohtani and Japan on Monday. At home in Tampa, Judge is 10 for 29 (.345) with a home run this spring after hitting .311/.425/.686 with an American League record 62 home runs in 2022.