Empty baseball field

Timeline of MLB Players Opting out of the 2020 Season

As the days go by we are hearing more names dropping out of the MLB Return to Play from the COVID-19 break. Here is an updated timeline as the news breaks:

Monday, June 29th

  • Arizona Diamondbacks’ Mike Leake’s agent released a statement about his client opting out. Leake became the first MLB player to sit out.
  • The Washington Nationals were the first team to announce multiple players sitting out as Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross both opted out of the returning to play. Zimmerman cited family circumstances with having three kids, including a newborn, and a high-risk mother. Ross opted out for “personal health and safety” according to the organization.
  • Colorado Rockies’ outfielder Ian Desmond released a powerful statement in which he talked about racial inequality in baseball, as well as his decision to opt out of the 2020 season.

Thursday, July 2nd

  • Free agent pitcher Tyson Ross joined his brother Joe in opting out. Tyson was in camp with the San Francisco Giants prior to the shutdown but was released in June after the transaction freeze.

Friday, July 3rd

  • Welington Castillo from the Nationals joined teammates Zimmerman and Ross in opting out as well. Castillo was hesitant to play due to his young children.

Saturday, July 4th

  • Atlanta Braves’ starting pitcher Felix Hernandez’s agent announces his client will sit out this year. Hernandez joined the Braves in the off season from the Seattle Mariners where he won an AL Cy Young Award in 2010.
  • Newly acquired pitcher David Price of the Los Angeles Dodgers opted out of the 2020 season. Price stated early during the shutdown that he would pay for the minor leaguers in the Dodgers organization. 

Monday, July 6th

  • Braves’ outfielder Nick Markakis announced his decision not play this season after consulting teammate Freddie Freeman, who contracted the virus. “Just to hear him, the way he sounded on the phone, it was tough, it was kind of eye-opening,” Markakis said of Freeman.

Wednesday, July 8th

  • Pittsburgh Pirates’ pitcher Hector Noesi opted out citing family reasons. He was on a minor league deal with the club.

Friday, July 10th

  • San Francisco Giants’ veteran catcher Buster Posey pulled out of this years’ upcoming return to play season. Posey decided to stay home with his wife and recently adopted twin girls.
  • Chicago White Sox’s top pitching prospect Michael Kopech never arrived at camp and made the decision to opt out. The club announced this via a statement. Kopech missed all of 2019 recovering from Tommy John Surgery.

The MLB has already had to cancel the minor league system after refusing to release minor leaguers to play in the MILB.