Team USA will have access to some significant talent for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but don’t expect to see major-league superstars like Mike Trout or Bryce Harper don the red, white and blue. Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association and World Baseball Softball Confederation reached an agreement Friday determining which players will be eligible to represent Team USA in the Olympic games, according to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com.
The agreement allows players on 40-man rosters who are not in the majors to play for Team USA. That’s a confusing way of saying any current major-league player — or any player you expect to make the majors out of spring training — will not be eligible to play in the 2020 Olympics. That means no Harper, no Trout and no Gerrit Cole.
It does, however, open the door to some of the game’s future stars. Top prospects who don’t make the majors out of spring training would technically be available to play for Team USA. That means players like Jo Adell, Casey Mize, Adley Rutschman and Andrew Vaughn could be asked to play for Team USA.
Before you start dreaming about a team of super prospects, there’s another significant catch here. Those top prospects can only play for Team USA if their major-league teams allow them to participate in the Olympics. In order for Adell to roam the outfield for Team USA, the Los Angeles Angels would have to approve it. Considering how much teams like to protect their prospects, that might be a tough ask. The Angels would not be happy if Adell suffered a serious injury playing in the Olympics.
Because of that, it’s unclear what type of talent Team USA will be able to secure. Major league teams might be more willing to allow their eighth-best prospect to take that risk. Or maybe major league teams will be strict and not allow any prospect to take part. It’s tough to predict how each team will act.
Team USA won’t have much time to figure out its roster. The United States isn’t guaranteed a spot in the Tokyo Olympics for baseball, and still has to qualify for the event. The first qualifier takes place March 22-26, giving Team USA less than a month to bring players on board.
While it would have been fun to watch the equivalent of an MLB Dream Team take on the best international talent the game can offer, there’s something far more appealing about rooting for an underdog. The former winning it all would be expected, the latter winning it all is what inspires movies to get made.
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