If anything can be said about the 2020 season, it’s definitely weird. Opening Day in July, no All-Star Game, a 60-game season, and that’s just the beginning. Along with the COVID-19 pandemic, came the option for MLB players to opt-out of the 2020 season. Players can sit out this year, free of charge. Whether due to fear of the virus, or for “personal reasons,” – which is a rather broad category.
Not all teams will lose players due to the opt-out option, but several teams will be playing shorthanded.
As of now, no players have opted out in the American League.
The Braves are down a pair of players this season, as Felix Hernandez, better known as King Felix, opted out due to concerns over contracting the virus. Now age 34, the King latched onto a minor league deal with Atlanta, hoping to crack the MLB roster.
Meanwhile, veteran outfielder Nick Markakis has also opted out. After teammate Freddie Freeman tested positive, Markakis said that a conversation between the two was more than enough for him to choose to sit out for the season.
Veteran righty, Mike Leake won’t play this season. Leake was the first MLB player to take the opt-out. Per an agreement between MLB and the MLBPA, Leake cited no reason why he made the decision.
The Rockies will be without the services of veteran, Ian Desmond, as he’s also chosen to opt out. Desmond issues a statement via an Instagram post, detailing his rationale. This decision will have several implications for the Rox, including a possible shortage in the outfield.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Just after the Dodgers did some wheeling and dealing with the Red Sox to get Mookie Betts and David Price, Price has now elected to opt out. Citing fear of the contracting COVID-19, Price announced that, “[It’s] in the best interest of my health and my family’s health for me to not play this season.” The veteran lefty is now with the Dodgers until the end of the 2022 season, but he’ll be turning 36 next year (August 26th), so losing this season may be costly for both Price and L.A.
No team has been hit harder than the defending World Series Champion, Washington Nationals.
Righty Joe Ross is opting-out, citing concern for his health and the health of his loved ones. Catcher Wellington Castillo is concerned about the risks involved, since he has a three-week-old child. The worst hit of all may have been the loss of Ryan Zimmerman.
Zimmerman has been with the team since the time of its inception in 2005. He’s a fixture and the cornerstone of the team. Zimmerman was to be a free agent this year, but re-signed with the Nats for a single season, valued at $20M.
More to Come?
With the way that MLB has botched the first phase of testing, more and more players are on the fence. The Cubs’ Kris Bryant has concerns, stating that he no longer felt safe. Other teams are also reporting players who’ve become doubtful that MLB and their testing policies can protect them.
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