It’s been a rough couple of days for the World Baseball Classic, starting with Freddie Freeman’s hamstring and ending with Edwin Diaz’s knee.
While Freeman’s hamstring strain was considered mild and he believes that his role with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Opening Day is not in jeopardy, Diaz’s injury is certainly considered more serious. Although at the time of writing this article the extent of the injury was unknown, being taken off the field in a wheelchair and being unable to place any weight on the injured leg is certainly not a good sign for New York Mets fans.
High-profile injuries to Edwin Diaz and Freddie Freeman will put spotlight on future World Baseball Classic participation
Let’s be clear: Diaz’s injury did not occur while he was pitching. It was in the postgame celebration, and injuries have happened in celebrations for years (we’re looking at you, Cody Bellinger and your shoulder injury following a postseason home run), so that in and of itself shouldn’t be a damning indictment of whether the World Baseball Classic is a good idea for MLB players or not.
Injuries have happened throughout spring training this season that have changed the plans of several MLB teams. Gavin Lux and his ACL tear. Brendan Rodgers and his shoulder injury. Carlos Rodon and his elbow issue. The list goes on and on … and the injuries all happened away from the World Baseball Classic.
However, there’s no question that any injury that doesn’t occur under team supervision will be considered more worrisome than those that happen during a normal spring training or regular season game. And that’s why the Diaz and Freeman scares will likely cause MLB teams to rethink participation in the next World Baseball Classic.
MLB wants the World Baseball Classic to work, and so do the passionate fans from throughout the world who have traveled to stadiums to cheer on the players representing their home countries. For those reasons, the WBC will march on into the future. It just may look different in those future iterations. Will there be as many stars headlining the event as there are this year? The Los Angeles Angels are rolling the dice with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani playing, just as much as the St. Louis Cardinals are with Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, and Adam Wainwright. Will those types of big names be in the mix when the WBC returns in 2026? Right now, in the wake of Diaz crumpling to the ground, it feels like the answer would be no.
The Diaz injury is a worst-case scenario not only for the Mets, but also for the WBC. Rather than being able to celebrate the next phase of this year’s tournament, there are plenty of eyes already looking ahead to 2026 … and not in a good way.