Whether it be health, safety or family concerns, many Major League Baseball players have reached out and stated that they will not be participating in this year’s shortened season. Below, is a full breakdown and analysis of all the players who opted out:
Mike Leake, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Diamondbacks right-hander Mike Leake was the first player to formally “opt out” of the 2020 season. Leake’s agent, Danny Horwits told MLB.com, “He [Leake] took countless factors into consideration, many of which are personal to him and his family.” in context of withdrawing his name from the upcoming season.
The 32-year old is forgoing $5 million in salary for the opt-out. The former 8th overall pick will most likely enter free agency this offseason if the Diamondbacks select to match his salary in a buy out fee. Once the right-hander formally announced he will not be participating this season, many followed his path.
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Washington Nationals
Firstbaseman Ryan Zimmerman will halt his momentum from last year’s World Series championship run by opting-out of play this season. Zimmerman told the Nationals, “Given my family circumstances — three young children, including a newborn, and a mother at high risk — I have decided not to participate in the 2020 season.”
A strong contributor on the Nationals World Series roster has not made his baseball future clear beyond this season. Zimmerman would have made $740,000 this year if he were to play, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts. The Nationals will certainly miss Zimmerman’s appearance in the lineup and the clubhouse.
Joe Ross, RHP, Washington Nationals
Right-handed pitcher Joe Ross was projected to be the Washington Nationals number five starter in the rotation this upcoming season. But by opting out, Ross will have to forfeit $555,556 (league minimum) and the service time he would have acquired. The loss of the service time will push Ross’ Free Agency eligibility to after the 2022 season.
Ross will join teammate Ryan Zimmerman who are both deciding to sit out this season. “We are one-hundred percent supportive of their decision to not play this year”, stated Manager Mike Rizzo in a regarding Zimmerman and Ross’ opt-out for the 2020 season.
Welington Castillo, C, Washington Nationals
Catcher Welington Castillo becomes the third Washington National to opt out of the 2020 season. Nationals manager David Martinez told reporters of the decision stating that Castillo was uncomfortable playing because he has two young children.
This previous offseason, Castillo and the Nationals agreed to terms on a minor league deal and was set to be the team’s third catcher for the upcoming season. The 2020 season certainly could’ve been a bounce back year for Castillo after batting slightly above .200 with the White Sox last season.
Ian Desmond, OF, Colorado Rockies
Revealing in an Instagram post that he will be opting out of the 2020 season, Ian Desmond stated two reasoning statements on why he made this big decision. Desmond acknowledged a desire to be with his family along with his pregnant wife. Desmond also expressed his emotions as a biracial man over racial injustice. The Rockies outfielder also stated that he will use this off time to help revive the youth baseball scene in his hometown Sarasota, Florida.
Desmond’s opt-out decision will force him to forgo his $5.55 million, per Cot’s and service time this season. The power bat of Desmond will still have one more year, including an option left on his five-year, $70 million contract with Colorado.
Tyson Ross, RHP, Free Agent
Brother of Joe Ross, Tyson, has decided to also opt-out of the 2020 season. Ross was a non-roster invite with San Francisco prior to parting ways with the organization before the summer season. The one-time All-Star could potentially sign with a contending team as a pivotal arm in the bullpen for the 2021 season.
David Price, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Arguably the most impactful player on this list, David Price, has decided to decline his participation this summer season. Price stated, “It is in the best interest of my health and family’s health for me to not play this season.” when making the formal announcement
Price, 34, will leave close to $12 million on the table this season. Although, the recently acquired Dodger will be owed $32 million in the 2021 and 2022 seasons. When Price returns to play with Los Angeles, expect him as the number three arm starting pitcher in the rotation.
Felix Hernandez, RHP, Atlanta Braves
King Felix is another domino to fall as an opt-out for the upcoming season. Hernandez’ agent announced that the right-hander will not participate this season due to COVID-19 concerns.
The former Seattle Mariner was competing for a starting rotation spot as a non-roster player before spring training was halted in April. The veteran would have been a strong contributing piece in the bullpen for Atlanta this season.
Michael Kopech, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox flamethrower Michael Kopech adds to the list of opt-outs for the upcoming. The highly anticipated right-handed pitcher was set to see his first light in the big leagues this summer season. Kopech is currently the number three right handed pitching prospecting baseball and is anticipated to lead Chicago’s young core in near future.
Kopech, 24, lights up radar guns with his live fastball that constantly reaches triple digits. When speaking about Kopech’s decision, manager Rick Hahn stated, “We recognize that reaching the decision is incredibly difficult for any competitive athlete, and our organization is understanding and supportive.” Expect Kopech to be in the American League Rookie of the Year race in 2021.
Nick Markakis, OF, Atlanta Braves
According to The Athletic, Braves outfielder Nick Markakis will be opting-out of the 2020 season. Markakis, 26, was in training camp with the team before electing to formally announce he will be opting-out. The father of three stated that teammate Freddie Freeman’s positive testing for COVID-19 “opened my eyes.”
The gold glove of Markakis will join teammate Felix Hernandez who both have opted-out of the upcoming season.
Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants
10 year MLB veteran, Buster Posey, has decided to opt out of the 2020 season. The most well-rounded position player on this list makes his decision in lieu of him and his wife had recently adopted two girls who were born prematurely. The non-contending Giants roster will surely miss the 4-time Silver Slugger and 3-time World Series bat in the lineup.
Posey, 33, will sacrifice $7.925 million in salary this season. The projected first ballot Hall of Fame will still have one year remaining with San Francisco remaining on his contract for $21.4 million in 2021, with a potential buyout in 2022. The 2012 National League MVP will look to have a bounce back year in 2021 after batting .257 in 2019.
Hector Noesi, Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates reliever, Hector Noesi, has decided to express his opt-out for the upcoming 2020 season after making the decision with his family. Used a role player in the Miami Marlins bullpen last season, Noesi was attempting to make the Pirates team as a non-roster invitee.
After speaking to the media, manager Derek Shelton stated, “We’re going to have situations where guys feel about certain things, and we’re definitely going to respect them and make sure that they’re supported in any way possible.” Noesi, 33, will still have two more years before his 2023 free agency.
Jordan Hicks, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Behind David Price, Cardinals flamethrower Jordan Hicks may be the most impactful pitcher on this opt-out list. The right handed closer is no stranger to reaching triple digits with his electric fastball. But unfortunately, fans will have to wait one more season to witness it in game.
Hicks, 23, was classified as a high-risk player due to his Type 1 Diabetes, which is a preexisting condition. Hicks was expected to make a full recovery after his Tommy John surgery last June.
Photo: Tampa Bay Times