After a four-month break due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Major League Baseball is finally getting its 2020 season underway on July 23.
Considering how much time was lost, MLB will only be playing a 60-game regular season with the postseason beginning at its normal time at the end of September and beginning of October.
While baseball will be played, it’s important to remember that the pandemic is still very prevalent in the United States with cases continuing to rise every day. The league has strict health and safety protocols in place for the 2020 season, although that surely won’t be able to prevent players from contracting the virus.
Because of that, MLB is allowing players who are deemed “high-risk” to opt-out of playing and not lose their prorated season salaries or service time for the 2020 season. Players who are not considered high-risk can also opt-out, although they would forfeit their salaries and not accrue service time.
While the decisions couldn’t have been easy, a handful of players throughout the league have already chosen to sit out the 2020 season. Here is a complete list of those players.
Mike Leake, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Leake was the first player reported to withdraw from playing the 2020 season. He will be forfeiting around $5 million in salary and will become a free agent in the offseason if Arizona declines the $18 million club option for 2021 and pay him a $5 million buyout.
Leake would have been competing for a spot in their starting rotation had he decided to play in 2020.
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Washington Nationals
Zimmerman made the difficult decision of sitting out the 2020 season instead of defending the Nationals’ World Series title due to health concerns for his family, which includes three young children and a newborn, as well as a mother at high risk.
Zimmerman is in the final year of his contract and although he said he is not retiring, he is not yet committed to playing beyond this season.
Joe Ross, RHP, Washington Nationals
Ross is another Nationals player that won’t be around in 2020 to defend their title. He would have been in competition for their fifth starter spot, but instead forfeits more than $500,000 and service time, pushing his free agency eligibility until 2023.
Ian Desmond, OF, Colorado Rockies
Desmond’s decision to opt-out of the 2020 season had to do with the health of him and his family, as well as his commitment to fighting racial injustice.
He will be giving back a little more than $5 million in prorated salary as well as delaying free agency another year.
David Price, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Price was one of the Dodgers’ big offseason additions after being acquired in a trade along with Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox. He stated health concerns for him and his family as his reason for not playing in 2020.
Price will forfeit close to $12 million in salary this year, and that is in addition to the money he decided to pay Minor Leaguers in the organization as well.
Ross Stripling, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin should all see their innings increase in Price’s absence.
Tyson Ross, RHP, San Francisco Giants
Ross joined his brother Joe in sitting out the 2020 season. He was a non-roster player with the Giants before being released prior to the start of Summer Camp.
Felix Hernandez, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Hernandez signed a one-year deal with the Braves this offseason after spending his entire career with the Seattle Mariners. Coronavirus concerns will put an end to his 2020 season before it started.
Nick Markakis, OF, Atlanta Braves
At the age of 36, Markakis also cited health concerns for sitting out the 2020 season. He was expected to see time in the outfield and in the middle of the batting order after signing a one-year deal to return this past offseason.
UPDATE: Markasis announced plans to return after re-considering his decision.
Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants
Posey and his wife are adopting identical twin girls that were born prematurely, making his decision to opt-out an easy one. The Giants aren’t expected to compete in 2020, but if they do, it will be without their leader behind the plate.
Michael Kopech, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Kopech is one of the youngest players to opt-out at the age of 24. He is coming off Tommy John surgery, so now will have more time to rehab and come back in 2021 at 100%.
Jordan Hicks, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Like Kopech, Hicks is also coming off Tommy John surgery and will have more time to rehab. He also has dealt with diabetes in his life so didn’t want to put himself at risk by playing the 2020 season. Because of his preexisting health condition, he will receive salary and service time for the 2020 season.
Welington Castillo, C, Nationals
Hector Noesi, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Mark Zagunis, OF, Chicago Cubs
Collin McHugh, RHP, Red Sox
Kohl Stewart, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Stewart, who has Type 1 diabetes, had been playing but on July 31 decided to “pause” his participation in the season. The right-hander had yet to appear in a game.