St. Louis Cardinals, John Brebbia and Yadier Molina.

(Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports)

Molina, Brebbia Head to Japan Next Month for Exhibition Series

Molina is possibly "the" headliner of the roster that will play 7 games in Japan, starting next week.

October 29, 2018 - 5:33 pm
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TOKYO (MLB/KMOX) - Yadier Molina just finished his first stint as manager in Colombia with the Puerto Rico youth baseball team at the U-23 World Cup of Baseball and next he's going to Japan with a full MLB All-Star roster. Molina was selected earlier this season as possibly "the" headliner of a team of MLB players headed to play in the 2018 Japan All-Star Series. 

Major League Baseball and the Players Association jointly announced today the full roster that's expected to play seven games (including one exhibition) across Japan from November 8th-15th.

MLB's squad includes four 2018 All-Stars, with Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger and Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto joining the previously announced Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals and Eugenio Suarez of the Cincinnati Reds. The two leading contenders for 2018 National League Rookie of the Year will patrol the outfield for MLB, as Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals will join the previously announced Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves.

Related story: Sizing Up Competition for Wong, Molina as 2018 Gold Glove Finalists

Molina is coming off his ninth All-Star season, last week was named the 2018 Roberto Clemente Award winner and is up for what would be his ninth career Gold Glove. Joining him from the St. Louis roster is right-handed reliever John Brebbia. The 28-year-old was 3-3 with a 3.20 ERA in 45 appearances with St. Louis this year. His 1.164 WHIP was third-best on this year's roster, behind only Miles Mikolas and Jack Flaherty.

There would be no crime in Molina choosing to withdraw from the team, which does have two other catchers on roster. He just finished up in Colombia over the weekend and has said he plans to go back to Puerto Rico sometime this offseason to continue the work being done by the Foundation 4. 

Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander and Japanese native Kenta Maeda, coming off of his appearance in the 2018 World Series, will represent MLB's team. Maeda is a former member of NPB's Hiroshima Toyo Carp and played for Team Japan in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Relievers Collin McHugh of the Houston Astros and Kirby Yates of the San Diego Padres are among the other pitchers on the roster, which also includes two members of the 2018 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, Brian Johnsonand Hector Velazquez.

Other previously announced participants include Philadelphia Phillies teammates Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana; Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield, who was MLB's leader in stolen bases (45) in 2018; and Dodgers infielder/outfielder Chris Taylor, who shared Most Valuable Player honors in the 2017 National League Championship Series. Milwaukee Brewers All-Star Christian Yelich, who was previously announced on September 10th, has withdrawn following his Club's extended Postseason run.

Related story: Cardinals Yadier Molina Wins 2018 Roberto Clemente Award

The coaching staff under MLB manager Don Mattingly will include Edgar Martinez, the Mariners great and their current hitting coach, and 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui, a legend of the Yomiuri Giants and the New York Yankees; Marlins third base coach Fredi Gonzalez, the former manager of the Marlins and the Braves; and three World Series Championship-winning coaches: bench coach Hensley Meulens of the San Francisco Giants, pitching coach Brent Strom of the Astros and bullpen coach Henry Blanco of the Nationals. Mattingly has managed the Marlins since 2016. From 2011-2015, Mattingly helmed the Dodgers, who earned three consecutive National League West titles in the final three years of his tenure with the Club. In his 14-year playing career with the Yankees, "Donnie Baseball" was a six-time All-Star first baseman, the 1985 American League Most Valuable Player, a nine-time Gold Glover and the captain of the team.

November's All-Star Series will resume a longtime baseball tradition that dates back to 1908, marking the 37th time overall that Major Leaguers have toured Japan for exhibition games. The All-Star Series will be played in Tokyo (Tokyo Dome), Hiroshima (Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium) and Nagoya (Nagoya Dome). The events will begin with an exhibition game against the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo on November 8th, followed by three games in Tokyo from November 9th-11th, one game in Hiroshima on November 13th and two games in Nagoya on November 14th-15th. MLB Network will provide extensive coverage of the 2018 All-Star Series, including live telecasts of the games from November 9th-15th.

Here is the full MLB roster:

PITCHERS
• Matt Andriese, D-backs
• Scott Barlow, Royals
• John Brebbia, Cardinals
• Junior Guerra, Brewers
• Brian Johnson, Red Sox
• Kenta Maeda, Dodgers
• Chris Martin, Rangers
• Collin McHugh, Astros
• Daniel Norris, Tigers
• Vidal Nuno, Rays
• Dan Otero, Indians
• Yusmeiro Petit, A's
• Erasmo Ramirez, Mariners
• Hector Velazquez, Red Sox
• Kirby Yates, Padres

CATCHERS
• Robinson Chirinos, Rangers
• Yadier Molina, Cardinals
• J.T. Realmuto, Marlins

INFIELDERS
• Whit Merrifield, Royals
• Amed Rosario, Mets
• Carlos Santana Phillies
• Eugenio Suarez, Reds
• Chris Taylor, Dodgers

OUTFIELDERS
• Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
• Mitch Haniger, Mariners
• Enrique Hernandez, Dodgers
• Rhys Hoskins, Phillies
• Kevin Pillar, Blue Jays
• Juan Soto, Nationals