Major League Baseball is back in full swing with a 60-game 2020 season, joining the NBA, NHL, and other major sports leagues in returning to play mid-July. Like those leagues, we are starting to see players make the decision to not participate. Health and safety protocols cleared by the MLB Players Association states that any MLB player can decide to opt-out of the 60-game 2020 season.
World Series Champion first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and right-hander Joe Ross have both posted statements saying that they will be sitting out for the shortened upcoming season. The two Nationals join Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Mike Leake, who was the first known MLB player to opt-out when he announced his decision earlier on Monday. Additionally, Ian Desmond of the Colorado Rockies announced that he will be opting out of the season on Monday night.
Zimmerman, 35, was conflicted about the season, stating that he was having a hard time deciding to part with his newborn baby and his mother, who has multiple sclerosis and would be considered a high-risk individual. He will forgo his $6.25 million salary (which would’ve been roughly $2.3 million due to prorated pay) in 2020.
Part of MLB’s return-to-play plan will allow high-risk players – those with pre-existing medical conditions or compromised immune systems – to decide to opt-out of the 2020 season at any point. Additionally, they would receive both their full salary and service time for the season. If a player decides to opt-out due to high-risk family members, the payment is up to that specific team’s discretion.
July 1 is expected to be the date that training camps will start for all teams in their own ballparks. It is becoming clearer that every team will have players that opt-out for personal reasons, but don’t be surprised when we receive news that multiple players from each franchise test positive over the next week for coronavirus. Like PGA, the NBA, and the UFC, the MLB will push forward through the positive testing, and will only suspend operations if the positive numbers become overwhelming. The MLBPA has agreed on starting the 60-game regular season on July 23.