NEW YORK — The U.S. may get some better players for its second attempt to qualify for the Olympic baseball tournament.
Major League Baseball and the MLBPA agreed to make players not likely to be on 26-man major league rosters available for the Americas qualifying tournament, to be played in Arizona from March 22-26.
When the U.S. stumbled in its first chance to qualify, at the Premier12 tournament in November, only players not on 40-man big league rosters were eligible for selection, and the 28 Americans at the Premier12 combined for a career 2.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference.
The change makes the roster rule similar to the one in place the last time baseball was included in the Olympics and could also benefit other nations with players under contract to big league organizations. For the 2008 Games in Beijing, players were eligible if they were not on 25-man big league rosters as of June 26 — about seven weeks before the Aug. 13 Olympic opener.
The timing of the Americas qualifying tournament makes player selection difficult. Nations must submit 26-man rosters on March 11 and can make changes through March 20. The MLB season does not start until March…