The stories of the Washington Nationals and Ryan Zimmerman are intertwined. The franchise moved from Montreal in 2005, where they were known as Expos, to the year they pulled Zimmerman from college. He reached the major leagues at the end of this season and has been with them since then, the face of the franchise through the lean seasons, its renaissance and last year her first World Series title.
The Coronavirus pandemichas ended this series – or at least interrupted it. Zimmerman announced on Monday that he would be opting out of the 2020 Major League Baseball season, which is set to begin on July 23. He became the most prominent player to do so, joining his teammate Joe Ross, former teammate Ian Desmond, from the Colorado Rockies and Mike Leake from Arizona Diamondbacks, who also said goodbye on Monday, days before a second spring training session begins should.
“I can’t speak for anyone, but given the unusual nature of the season, this is the best decision for me and my family,” said Zimmerman, a first baseman, in a statement released by his agents, “and I really appreciate it.” Understanding and supporting the organization. “
Based on by M.L.B. and the players unionEach player can cancel the 2020 season, which is scheduled for the last 60 games. But only those who have a higher risk of developing a severe coronavirus disease due to their medical history will receive payment and service time after logging out.
Zimmerman, who had earned a proportionate $ 740,000 this short season, said in his statement that he had “carefully considered” the decision and cited his family circumstances – he had three young children, including a one-month son and his mother, in 1995 diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“Everyone knows what it means to be part of a team and I will miss this camaraderie very much this year,” he said.
Over the winter, the 35-year-old Zimmerman signed again with the Nationals for one year and $ 2 million. In his 15-year career, he has earned over $ 133 million. He said on Monday that he was “not retiring at this time”.
27-year-old Ross, a right-handed player who had the chance to hit the Nationals’ starting rotation, entered his sixth season with the club and was expected to earn a share of approximately $ 555,000.
In a statement released by the team, Mike Rizzo, General Manager of Nationals, said that Ross and Zimmerman chose “for the personal health and safety of themselves and their loved ones” and that the club “fully” supported their decisions.
34-year-old Desmond, who won three Silver Slugger Awards as Zimmerman’s teammate from 2009-15, released a long, warm statement on Instagram Late Monday, he explained his upbringing, the racism he faced as a biracial man, the diminishing accessibility of baseball and his family. Desmond, an outfielder, was supposed to earn a share of $ 5.6 million, but wrote that he wasn’t comfortable with the health risk of playing baseball this season.
“I have to be at home now with a pregnant wife and four young children who have a lot of questions about what is going on in the world,” he wrote. “Home for my wife, Chelsey. At home to help. Home to lead. At home to answer my older three boys’ questions about coronavirus, civil rights and life. At home to be her father. “
Leake, 32, was the first M.L.B. Player to make his opt-out intentions public. In his eleventh season in the Major League, Leake should earn a share of around $ 5.6 million. His contract also included a mutual option of $ 18 million or a buyout of $ 5 million for the 2021 season.
“It was not an easy decision for Mike,” said Leakes agent Danny Horwits. said in a statement. Horwits also said that Leake “had a lot of discussion” with his family about playing this season and “took into account countless factors, many of which are personal to him and his family”.
Dusty Baker, 71, manager of Houston Astros, is the oldest in his position in M.L.B. and has committed to manage this season. However, he has recognized that he and his trainers – three of whom are 62 years of age or older – are at higher risk during the pandemic.
On Monday, the Minnesota Twins reassigned two of their higher-risk, higher-risk coaches – Bob McClure (68) and Bill Evers (66) – after examining their employees’ medical history.
“It’s about as difficult to make a decision as you will be in baseball,” said Rocco Baldelli, manager of the twins told reporters. “Both of them especially wanted to be part of this season, both were very disappointed to hear the news, but both know that this is the right and safest thing to do.”
Twin officials told reporters that McClure and Evers would receive their full salary but would work in other roles from home.