Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout will captain the United States at the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
Team USA enters the next installment of the WBC as the defending champion. Trout declined the opportunity to join the 2017 squad but left the door open for future competitions.
Trout's decision in 2017 was emblematic of how many American stars didn't hold the World Baseball Classic in high esteem.
The competition is also too young—the first tournament was staged in 2006—to mean much from a legacy perspective.
If MLB's best player is getting on board, though, the perception among his peers might be shifting. His inclusion might also send a strong message to those who were on the fence about whether they'd suit up.
Having Trout will be a massive boost for Team USA's offense. The 30-year-old earned his 10th All-Star nod this season. Through 79 games, he has a .270/.368/.599 slash line along with 24 home runs and a 170 OPS+, per Baseball Reference. His 3.8 WAR is tied for 10th among position players on FanGraphs.
Imagine if USA Baseball can also secure commitments from some combination of Mookie Betts, Bryce Harper and Aaron Judge. On the strength of its outfield alone, the U.S. could have one of the stronger lineups in the 2023 WBC.