World Baseball Classic ‘100 percent’ returning in 2026, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters Tuesday that the World Baseball Classic is “100 percent” returning in 2026, calling this year’s tournament “unbelievable.” Here’s what you need to know:

  • When asked about the goal moving forward for the WBC, Manfred said he’d “like to see pitching staffs that are of the same quality as our positions players.” Manfred acknowledged this requires buy-in from teams and said it’s a two-pronged approach of having constant communication with MLB clubs and also having data to support the notion that playing in high-stakes games in March actually helps development.
  • Manfred said “there’s no perfect time” on when to hold the WBC. “We have talked about something in the middle of the season. I think on balance, although it’s not perfect, this is probably the right place for it.”
  • This year’s World Baseball Classic is the fifth iteration of the event. The WBC began in 2006.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Significance of the WBC returning in 2026

The World Baseball Classic returning is a huge boon for the growth of the sport internationally. After solid performances from Venezuela and Mexico, both of those countries will have high expectations moving forward along with powerhouses like the U.S., Japan and the Dominican Republic. Having meaningful baseball games played in March is another plus for the sport as is the support from some of the game’s biggest players (like Mike Trout and Mookie Betts) in participating. — Ghiroli

Manfred on rule change clarifications

In addition to the World Baseball Classic, Manfred was asked about rules ahead of the 2023 MLB season. The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reported that members of MLB’s competition committee discussed tweaks to baseball’s new rules on Monday, according to people briefed on the meeting, opening the door to potential rule modifications for Opening Day.

Manfred said that MLB will be announcing “a series of clarifications” in the next day or two.

“Our feet are not in stone on this, on the one hand, and we are prepared to make adjustments based on input,” Manfred said. “On the other hand, we want to give it a chance to see exactly how it plays out after a period of adjustment in some regular season games before we make any really significant alterations.”

Required reading

(Photo: Jonathan Dyer / USA Today)

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