Giants

MLB opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

MLB opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

It's extremely common to hear about a player opting out in baseball. Stars have often had opt-out clauses for the final year of their deals, and in recent years many have given themselves the ability to opt out after just a year or two of a massive contract. At the end of every spring, non-roster invitees opt out to look for a better opportunity elsewhere. 

But this season, those two words take on a different meaning. 

Under a March agreement reached by MLB and the Players Association, high-risk players can opt out of the 2020 season because of coronavirus concerns and still get paid. Players who are not deemed to be at a high risk can also opt out while surrendering their 2020 salaries and service time.

On the first day of the week MLB was set to return, four players opted out. Here's a rundown of where the list currently stands:

Mike Leake (Diamondbacks starting pitcher)

The 32-year-old was the first to publicly make his intentions known. Leake's agent told reporters that the right-hander "took countless factors into consideration, many of which are personal to him and his family." There has been some speculation that Leake had family concerns; his father was paralyzed in an accident a few years ago and that's in part why he ended up close to home with the Diamondbacks.

Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals first baseman)

Zimmerman is exactly the type of player you would think of when it comes to guys who had a difficult decision to make in recent weeks. He's 35 and now is a part-time player, and he's set for life financially and got his ring last October. In a statement put out by his agency, he made it clear this is about concerns for his family, which includes a mother with multiple sclerosis:

Joe Ross (Nationals starting pitcher)

Ross, a 27-year-old Bay Area native who is the younger brother of Tyson, also opted out June 29. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said Zimmerman and Ross decided "not to participate in the 2020 season for the personal health and safety of themselves and their loved ones. We are 100 percent supportive of their decision to not play this year."

Ian Desmond (Rockies outfielder)

The 34-year-old announced his decision at the end of a series of Instagram posts that examined injustices in baseball and society. It was a powerful statement, and one you should read in full here:

View this post on Instagram

On my mind.

A post shared by Ian Desmond (@i_dez20) on

Tyson Ross (free agent starting pitcher)

It was a bit of a surprise when Ross was released by the Giants last week. As a veteran who could start or come out of the bullpen, he seemed like a good fit for what they were building in March, and an even better fit in a season with no true five-man rotation. But this seems to explain the decision: 

Welington Castillo (Nationals catcher)

The 33-year-old signed a minor league deal with the reigning champs in the offseason and was set to be part of their pool:

David Price (Dodgers Pitcher)

Price was headed for the No. 3 spot in a rotation built to win it all. He said his decision was in the "best interest of my health and my family's health." 


Felix Hernandez (Braves pitcher)

The 2010 AL Cy Young winner was a candidate to fill a rotation spot for a team that should be in the postseason, but his agent made the announcement: 

After spending the first 15 seasons of his career with the Mariners, Hernandez signed a minor-league contract with Atlanta this offseason. He will turn 35 next April, when the 2021 MLB season is expected to start.

Nick Markakis (Braves outfielder)

The veteran outfielder's decision came after Freddie Freeman, Will Smith and other Braves tested positive for COVID-19, which was reportedly a big factor in his decision. Markakis, 36, hit .285 with nine homers last season for Atlanta.


Hector Noesi (Pirates pitcher)

Noesi, 33, went 0-3 and posted an 8.46 ERA across 12 appearances with the Miami Marlins last season. Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton announced the news recently:

Buster Posey (Giants catcher)

The Giants catcher became the biggest name to opt out of the MLB season to date, announcing Friday he won't play in 2020. Posey and his wife just adopted twin girls who were born prematurely last week, and he cited their health as his primary concern.

"After weighing it for a long time, talking to doctors, I just feel like in the current state that we are right now and these babies being as fragile as they are for the next four months, at minimum, this ultimately wasn't that difficult a decision for me," Posey said. "From a baseball standpoint, it was a tough decision, from a family standpoint and feeling like I'm making a decision to protect our children, I feel like it was relatively easy."

Jordan Hicks (Cardinals Pitcher)

The hardest-throwing man in the game is recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent in June of 2019. But he's also a Type 1 Diabetic which as Belleville News-Democrat reporter Jeff Jones says, could lead to complications from coronavirus. Hicks is the first on this list who is known to be high-risk, and thus he will get to keep his 2020 salary and accrue service time as he sits out. 

Michael Kopech (White Sox pitcher)

The former top prospect missed the entire 2019 recovering from Tommy John surgery. He did not disclose the reasoning behind his decision to opt out.


Collin McHugh (Red Sox pitcher)

Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke announced that the former Astros starter will not be playing in the 2020 season, but did not specify a reason.


Isan Diaz (Marlins infielder)

After the Marlins experienced an outbreak with 18 players in the clubhouse testing positive for coronavirus, Diaz decided to opt out of the remainder of the season on Saturday.


Lorenzo Cain (Brewers outfielder)

Milwaukee has had several games postponed as a result of positive coronavirus tests in the St. Louis Cardinals clubhouse, and a team press release confirmed Saturday that he'll be opting out of the remainder of the season.


Shelby Miller (Brewers pitcher)

The Brewers announced Monday that pitcher Shelby Miller has opted out of the remainder of the season.


Marcus Stroman (Mets pitcher)

Stroman announced that he has opted out of the rest of the 2020 MLB season due to "too many unknowns" around COVID-19

Gabe Kapler's faith in Hunter Pence, veterans pays off in Giants' win

Gabe Kapler's faith in Hunter Pence, veterans pays off in Giants' win

Twice a day, every day, Gabe Kapler logs onto Zoom to talk to reporters. You could search and search through those hours of film and you'd have a hard time finding many moments when Kapler was even a little bit negative. 

Ask Kapler about Hunter Pence's massive struggles and he'll say he believes in the track record and the work Pence is putting in behind the scenes. Ask about the slumping Brandons and he'll say the swings are better than the results. Ask why he has so much faith in Tyler Rogers, who has gotten rocked early on this year, and he'll say that the submariner is his Swiss Army Knife and remains a valuable weapon in late innings. 

After Monday night's loss, one in which the Giants flirted with getting no-hit and committed three more errors, Kapler sat down and took all the hard questions, then asked if he could make a statement before his time was up. He talked about how great Austin Slater's batting practice was earlier in the day. 

Kapler has shown tremendous faith in a group whose play on the field often begs for more turnover, and in Tuesday's 7-6 comeback win over the Astros, that faith was rewarded. 

Pence, 2-for-32 at the time, hit a three-run homer in the seventh. Brandon Crawford, hitting just .204 this year, had the game-winning hit in the 10th. Rogers entered with an 11.88 ERA and stranded a runner in scoring position for his first career save. Tyler Heineman, who has taken some heat for three catcher interference calls this season, picked up his own save by gloving a wild breaking ball with the tying run on third. 

"He has expressed confidence and understands that these kinds of things go on in baseball and it's about the process, it's about doing the work and having good approaches," Pence said of Kapler. "I'm really enjoying a lot of work these hitting (coaches) have done and also the support of Kap. It's been really a big lift for me."

While Pence has seen all the highs and lows one can expect in this game, Rogers, a second-year reliever, is dealing with his first real doubt in the big leagues. He pitched well in Triple-A, dominated in a September call-up, and had two camps this year that were so impressive he looked like a potential closer. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

But Rogers has had high-profile blowups in the first three weeks of his first full season. After he gave up a game-swinging homer to A.J. Pollock in Los Angeles on Sunday, Kapler approached the reliever. 

"He came to me and was like, 'I haven't lost any confidence in you, you're still one of my guys,'" Rogers said. "That's big when a manager does that. After a couple tough games, to be able to validate his decision tonight to put me back in there was just rewarding for me."

Rogers took the mound the first time the Giants ever dealt with the new extra-innings rule, a game that ended up being an embarrassing loss. The Giants gave up six runs in the top of the 10th that night and Kapler pulled Rogers when he wasn't allowed to, a move he later apologized for. Given another shot, though, he went right back to Rogers. 

"I tell you what, it was good to get another crack at it," Rogers said. 

With George Springer on second, Rogers got a grounder and two strikeouts to pick up his first save. His twin brother, Taylor, has 36 of them in the big leagues, and you can bet at some point Kapler will give his version another shot at closing the gap. 

[RELATED: How Slater's adjustment hints at a breakout with Giants]

There will be nights when Kapler pays dearly for being so loyal. He already has several times this season. But on Tuesday, it all led to perhaps the best win of the year for a team that's proven to be pretty resilient. 

"We've been scoring a lot of runs late," Pence said. "We do have a team mindset of keep fighting, be as scrappy as we can, grit it out and keep going."

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 7-6 win vs. Astros

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 7-6 win vs. Astros

BOX SCORE

The Giants' second experience with the new extra-innings rule was considerably better than the first. San Francisco completed a huge comeback in the ninth and held on in the 10th for a 7-6 win over the Astros, bringing the placed runner home in the top half and then stranding him in the bottom of the inning. 

The Giants started the 10th with Wilmer Flores on second and Brandon Crawford brought him home. George Springer started the bottom of the inning on second but Tyler Rogers stranded him on third for his first career save. 

A night after a comeback attempt fell just short in the ninth, the Giants trailed 6-2 after six but tied it up. Hunter Pence hit a huge homer in the seventh and his single pushed the tying run to third in the ninth. Darin Ruf found a hole on the left side, completing the comeback. 

Welcome Home 

Pence started his career in Houston and spends his offseasons there. He even has a coffee shop in the city. It was the perfect spot, then, for Pence to finally get going. 

Gabe Kapler sent him up with two outs in the seventh and Pence lined it the other way, sneaking a three-run shot just over the wall in right as Josh Reddick's jump came up a few inches short. The homer, Pence's first of the year, cut a four-run deficit to one. It was the fourth pinch-hit homer of Pence's career. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

A (Bad) Record 

When Alex Bregman took Tyler Anderson deep in the fourth, it marked the 15th consecutive game that the Giants had allowed a home run, a franchise record. Three previous Giants teams had allowed a homer in 14 straight. The staff entered the night with 28 home runs allowed, which was tied for the Mariners for second-most in the majors. The Diamondbacks had allowed an astounding 39 homers coming into play Tuesday. 

[RELATED: How Slater's adjustment hints at a breakout with Giants]

More Pitching Issues 

Anderson was good in Denver, but Houston wasn't so kind. The left-hander was charged with four earned in five innings, walking three and striking out two. Most of the damage was done in the second, when the Astros scored three runs on doubles by Martin Maldonado and Reddick. 

Rico Garcia followed Anderson and continued his slide. The hard-throwing right-hander gave up two runs on five hits and was saved from more trouble by a slick double play by Evan Longoria. After starting his Giants career with six scoreless outings, Garcia has allowed five earned in his last three appearances and recorded just five outs.