Nestor Cortes yankees
Dan Hamilton | USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes can soon call himself an international competitor. The charismatic, fun-loving lefty announced on his Instagram that he would represent Team USA at next year’s World Baseball Classic.



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A post shared by Nestor Cortes Jr (@nestorcortes12)

USA Baseball also announced the addition of Cortes on their own page. Though born in Cuba, his family has lived in Hialeah, Florida since he was seven months old. How quickly we forget that before “Nasty Nestor,” he was simply “The Hialeah Kid.”

But now, Team USA is getting a crafty lefty who went 12-4 with a 2.44 ERA in his first full season as a starter. Cortes also posted a 0.92 WHIP, made the American League All-Star team, and finished eighth in Cy Young voting. This is someone who will not only help Team USA defend their championship, but throw in some entertaining pitching motions along the way.

Therein lies the real reason Nestor Cortes is on Team USA. In the grand scheme, the World Baseball Classic is a meaningless March tournament that happens every few years. If anything, it distracts fans between March Madness games and makes spring training go by a little quicker.

As in, it’s just as important for players to have fun and enjoy themselves in the WBC as it is to represent their respective countries well. On days he doesn’t pitch, Cortes will absolutely be bouncing around the dugout supporting his teammates, just like he did with the Yankees last year.

But will that be enough for the United States to clear a field that also includes former champions Japan and the Dominican Republic? We’ll soon find out.

The 2023 World Baseball Classic kicks off when Team Netherlands and Team Cuba play at Taiwan’s Taichung Stadium on March 8.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.