Desmond Becomes 4th MLB Player, 1st Member of Rockies to Opt Out of 2020 Season

Tracy Ringolsby

Baseball has been a key part of Ian Desmond's life.

But there is something more important to Desmond -- his family.

And with that in mind, Desmond announced on Instagram he would sit out the 2020 baseball season, citing both the COVID-19 and concerns about racial issues.

The Colorado Rockies outfielder becomes the fourth Major League player to announce he would not play this year, joining D-backs pitcher Mike Leake, who announced his plans on Monday, and Nationals teammates Joe Ross and Ryan Zimmerson, whose decisions were made public on Tuesday.

He has completed the first three years of a five-year, $70 million contract with the Nationals, and has indicated he could return a year from now.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking,” Desmond wrote on the final page of his nine-page Instagram announcement. “But that doesn’t mean I’m leaving baseball behind for the year. I’ll be right here, at my old Little League, and I’m working with everyone involved to make sure we get Sarasota Youth Baseball back on track. It’s what I can do, in the scheme of so much. So, I am.

“With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what’s going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now. Home for my wife, Chelsey. Home to help. Home to guide. Home to answer my older three boys’ questions about coronavirus and civil rights and life. Home to be their dad.”

Desmond, headed into the fourth year of his five-year, $70 million contract, joined D-backs pitcher Mike Leake, and National closer Joe Ross and infielder Ryan Zimmerman in deciding not to play this season. 

A player with a personal medical issue can opt out of playing this year and receive his pro-rated salary, otherwise if a player decides not to play he will not be compensated. Desmond's prorated portion of his $15 million salary for 2020 would have been $5.625 million.

Desmond, however, appears to have based his decision on a desire to make a statement about growing concerns he has about the racial issues.

"The image of Derek Chauvin's knee on the neck of George Floyd, the gruesome murder of a Black man in the streets at the hands of a police officer, broke my coping mechanism," he wrote. "Suppressing my feelings became impossible.''

Desmond also expressed concerns about the atmosphere in the baseball clubhouses.

“In clubhouses we’ve got racist, sexist, homophobic jokes or flat-out problems,” he wrote. “We’ve got cheating. We’ve got a minority issue from the top down. One African American GM. Two African American managers. Less than 8% Black players. No Black majority team owners.”

 To read his full post on instagram, click:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCCp7aSptTr/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

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