When Major League Baseball and its players came to an agreement on the 2020 season, one of the provisions was that players could opt out of the season if they didn't feel comfortable playing. Players who are considered high-risk for COVID-19 will still be paid, while others will have to forfeit their salary for the season.
Today we saw the first few examples of players deciding to forego the 2020 season. Arizona Diamondbacks right-handed pitcher Mike Leake has decided to opt out, as reported by MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. ESPN's Jeff Passan tweeted out a statement from Leake's agent, which said "During this global pandemic, Mike and his family had many discussions about playing this season. They took countless factors into consideration, many of which are personal to him and his family. After thorough consideration, he has chosen to opt out of playing in 2020."
Leake started 32 games for the Dbacks last season, finishing with a 12-11 record and a 4.29 ERA.
Additionally, multiple Washington Nationals' players have decided to opt out this season. The Athletic's Britt Ghiroli reported that right-handed pitcher Joe Ross and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman have decided not to play this year. She also said that she's hearing that two to three other Nats players are still considering their options.
Ross went 4-4 for the Nats last season with a 5.48 ERA and 57 strikeouts. Zimmerman, a veteran in the Nats' lineup, batted .257 in just 52 games as he claimed his first World Series championship after becoming the first draft pick in Nationals' history in 2005.
I'm sure we'll see more players make the decision to opt out in the coming days as they begin to report to Spring Training 2.0, and I can't blame them. If that's what they feel is right for themselves, it's a decision they have to make.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.