Aaron Judge admittedly had a lot on his plate this Major League Baseball offseason, hitting free agency for the first time in his career after a record-breaking 2022 campaign with the New York Yankees.
Still, the reigning American League MVP’s absence from the World Baseball Classic was notable as the United States lost to Japan in the final of the global tournament.
So, will Judge participate in the next WBC, scheduled for 2026?
“It’s tough to say now since it’s three years down the road,” Judge said Wednesday, according to the New York Post. “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.”
There was no shortage of star power in Team USA’s lineup, even without Judge. That said, Judge further cemented himself as MLB’s preeminent slugger last season, launching an AL-record 62 home runs en route to signing a nine-year, $360 million contract to remain in pinstripes.
Judge, presumably, will be on more stable ground the next time the WBC rolls around, not having to deal with the pressure of MLB free agency. So, perhaps that’ll persuade him to represent Team USA for the first time come 2026.
The 2023 WBC turned out to be epic, with Shohei Ohtani striking out Los Angeles Angels teammate Mike Trout for the tournament’s final out. And it could be even more iconic moving forward, now that Judge and others have seen its growing impact on the sport and fans across the globe.