Olympic Qualifying Will Not Include 40-Man Roster Players

As expected, players on 40-man rosters will not take part in Olympic qualifying.

Only non-40 man roster players will be eligible to participate in the Americas Qualifier for the Olympics next month, Major League Baseball confirmed to Baseball America on Monday night. 

The qualifier, which is scheduled to take place May 31-June 5 in Florida, will feature the United States, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Venezuela competing for an Olympic bid. The winner of the qualifier will receive a berth to the Tokyo Olympics. The second- and third-place finishers will advance to a final Olympic qualifier in Taiwan.

Players on 40-man rosters were eligible to participate in the originally scheduled Americas Qualifier last March, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed the qualifier as well as the Tokyo Games by a year. With the pandemic still ongoing and teams concerned about potential outbreaks, eligibility was changed for the rescheduled 2021 qualifier. Roster eligibility for the Olympics has yet to be determined.

Using only non-40 man players, Team USA lost to Mexico in the bronze medal game at WBSC Premier12 in November 2019, its first attempt to qualify for the Olympics. Many of the players on the Premier12 roster, including Jo Adell, Jake Cronenworth, Alec Bohm, Bobby Dalbec, Daulton Varsho and Andrew Vaughn, are now on 40-man rosters and will not be eligible to participate in the upcoming qualifier. 

The eligibility restrictions mean rosters will once again be a mix of minor leaguers and veterans not on 40-man rosters. Former major leaguers playing abroad, such as Adam Jones in Japan and Dan Straily and Ryon Healy in Korea, are potential candidates for Team USA for the Olympics, although they may not be able to leave their foreign teams for the qualifier. The top five prospects on the BA Top 100—Rays shortstop Wander Franco (Dominican Republic), Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman (USA), Mariners outfielders Julio Rodriguez (Dominican Republic) and Jarred Kelenic (USA) and Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson (USA)—are all not on 40-man rosters and will be eligible to participate if their teams grant them permission to participate. Kelenic is expected to be promoted to the majors before the qualifier and will not be eligible once he is added to the 40-man roster.

Team USA will be led by manager Mike Scioscia. Joining him on the coaching staff are bench coach Jerry Weinstein, pitching coach Dave Wallace, hitting/first base coach Ernie Young, third base coach Darren Fenster and bullpen coach Roly de Armas.

Japan, South Korea, Israel and Mexico have already qualified for the six-team Olympic field. The final two spots will go to the winner of the Americas Qualifier and the winner of the final qualifier in Taiwan. 

Opening Ceremonies for the Tokyo Olympics are scheduled for July 23. Baseball’s opening round begins July 28.


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