Arozarena, Kirk highlight talented Mexico roster

February 10th, 2023

After early exits in each of the previous two World Baseball Classics, Mexico is back in 2023 with a talent-laden roster that could have the country poised for its deepest WBC run yet.

With newcomers such as Julio Urías, Alejandro Kirk, Randy Arozarena, Rowdy Tellez, Patrick Sandoval and Taijuan Walker joining the team, Mexico should be a formidable foe when the 2023 World Baseball Classic gets underway in March.

Here is a position-by-position breakdown of Team Mexico. Within each position, players are listed in alphabetical order, with any affiliation to an MLB organization noted in parentheses.

Catchers: Austin Barnes (Dodgers), Alejandro Kirk (Blue Jays)

One of three Dodgers players on Mexico’s roster, Barnes has spent his entire career with Los Angeles after making his MLB debut in 2015. The veteran backstop won a World Series title with the team in 2020.

Kirk earned his first All-Star appearance in 2022, starting behind the plate for the American League. The 24-year-old won a Silver Slugger Award after hitting .285 with 14 homers and a .786 OPS over 139 games for the Blue Jays.

Infielders: Jonathan Aranda (Rays), Joey Meneses (Nationals), Isaac Paredes (Rays), Rowdy Tellez (Brewers), Alan Trejo (Rockies), Luis Urías (Brewers), Roberto Valenzuela

After playing for Mexico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Luis Urías will be joined by Brewers teammate Tellez, who popped a career-high 35 home runs for Milwaukee in 2022. Tellez is one of several first-base options for Mexico, along with Aranda and Meneses. Paredes also saw time at first base for the Rays in 2022.

It will be interesting to see how Meneses performs in his WBC debut after making his long-awaited big league debut last season and putting up impressive numbers. The 30-year-old Meneses -- who spent time playing in the Minors, Japan and Mexico before getting the call to the big leagues -- hit .324 with 13 homers and a .930 OPS over 56 games for Washington.

Outfielders: Randy Arozarena (Rays), Jose Cardona, Jarren Duran (Red Sox), Alek Thomas (D-backs), Alex Verdugo (Red Sox)

Part of a heavy Rays contingent on Team Mexico, Arozarena is another player making his WBC debut. Though he was born in Cuba, Arozarena defected from the country as a 19-year-old in 2015 and settled in Mexico. He rose to prominence during the 2020 postseason, setting MLB playoff records for homers (10) and hits (29). His encore? Winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2021. He became a Mexican citizen in 2022.

Mexico’s other four outfield options all have MLB experience, too, none more so than Verdugo, who has played 509 games in the Majors for the Dodgers and Red Sox and owns a .286/.341/.431 slash with 44 homers in his career. He played for Team Mexico during the 2017 WBC as well.

Pitchers: Erubiel Armenta (Phillies)^, Javier Assad (Cubs), Luis Cessa (Reds), Jesus Cruz (Phillies), Giovanny Gallegos (Cardinals), Adrian Martinez (A’s), Gerardo Reyes (Angels), Wilmer Rios, JoJo Romero (Cardinals)^, Jake Sanchez (Padres), Patrick Sandoval (Angels)^, Julio Urías (Dodgers)^, José Urquidy (Astros), César Vargas, Taijuan Walker (Phillies), Samuel Zazueta^

^denotes left-handed pitcher

Walker and Urquidy are among the notable starting options for Team Mexico in this year’s Classic. Walker, an All-Star with the Mets in 2021, has posted a career 3.89 ERA over 898 innings in the Majors. Urquidy doesn’t have as much experience as Walker, but he has made appearances in three World Series for the Astros and owns a career 3.74 ERA over 342 innings in the regular season.

Mexico figures to lean on Gallegos in the late innings, with the right-hander having notched a 2.84 ERA with 33 saves for the Cardinals over the past four seasons. He made one appearance for Mexico in the 2017 WBC. Cessa is another bullpen arm on the roster with significant MLB experience.

After following up a 20-win season with an NL-leading 2.16 ERA and a third-place finish in the NL Cy Young Award voting last year, Urías (unrelated to Luis) is expected to front Team Mexico’s starting staff in the 2023 Classic. Sandoval, who has recorded a 3.17 ERA for the Angels over the past two seasons, gives Mexico another impressive option from the left side.