With Major League Baseball attempting to play the 2020 season with COVID-19 afflicting the nation, players have the option to not participate this year.
Those considered “high-risk” for the coronavirus — per MLB’s agreement with the MLBPA — can opt out and receive salary and service time. Those who are not can decline to play but may not receive salary and service time. Teams may offer both to players who live with high-risk individuals, however.
Here is a running list of players who will sit out this season:
Mike Leake — Diamondbacks pitcher
On June 29, Leake became the first player to announce he will sit out. His agent said he and his family took “countless factors into consideration.” MLB insider Jon Heyman said the right-hander will not be paid this season, meaning he doesn’t fall under the high-risk designation.
Leake was positioned to compete for a spot in Arizona’s rotation and will become a free agent if they decline his $18 million 2021 option.
Statement from Mike Leake's agent, Danny Horwits - President of Beverly Hills Sports Council: pic.twitter.com/u0Xp0WUCtw— Beverly Hills Sports Council (@BHSCouncil) June 29, 2020
Mike Leake has opted out due to the pandemic this year. He will not be paid in 2020 but his option and buyout are still active for ‘21. Agent Danny Horwits said Mike and his family weighed many personal factors, he wishes his teammates well and he’ll be back in 2021. #dbacks— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 29, 2020
Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross
Zimmerman joined Leake in announcing his decision on June 29. The longtime National cited family circumstances — three kids, including a newborn, and his mother being high-risk. He made it clear he is not retiring, but he's set to become a free agent after this season.
On the same day Zimmerman announced his decision, the Nationals revealed Ross also decided not to play. The club’s statement cited “the personal health and safety of themselves and their loved ones” in both players’ decisions. Ross is arbitration eligible through 2021.
Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond
Desmond also revealed he won’t play this year on June 29. He posted a powerful Instagram message discussing racial inequality in baseball, from Little League to MLB. It’s heartfelt and worth a read:
Free agent pitcher Tyson Ross
On July 2, Heyman reported Ross joined his brother Joe in deciding not to play. Tyson Ross was with the Giants and in contention for a swingman job before San Francisco released him in late June, shortly after MLB lifted its transaction freeze.
Tyson Ross, currently a free agent, will join his brother Joe, a Nats pitcher, in sitting out this season. Both pitchers have given it a lot of thought. Their dad is a doctor, their mom a nurse.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 2, 2020
Nationals catcher Welington Castillo
Castillo became the third Nationals player to decide to sit out. Nationals manager Dave Martinez said on July 3 the former Cubs and White Sox catcher was hesitant to play because he has young children.
That means three Nationals have opted out to this point: Ryan Zimmerman, Joe Ross and Castillo. Castillo was an extra catcher who had a non-roster invite to spring training back in February/March. Martinez cited Castillo being hesitant because of his family/young kids in the DR.— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) July 3, 2020
Dodgers pitcher David Price
Price announced on July 4 he will be sitting out this year, saying it’s in the “best interest of my health and my family’s health.” He joined Los Angeles over the offseason in a trade from the Red Sox with Mookie Betts.
Prior to his decision, Price donated $1,000 to every Dodgers minor leaguer in June.
Braves pitcher Félix Hernández
Hernández' agent announced on July 4 the former Cy Young Award winner will sit out this year. Hernández was vying for a spot in Atlanta’s rotation.
I have confirmed this report that Félix Hernández has decided to not play this year because of COVID—19 concerns. He was vying for a spot in the Braves’ rotation l. https://t.co/TwjsVNqGI3— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) July 5, 2020
Braves outfielder Nick Markakis*
Markakis announced his decision to sit out on July 6. He said his family, as well as teammate Freddie Freeman contracting a rough case of COVID-19, influenced his thinking.
“Just to hear him, the way he sounded on the phone, it was tough, it was kind of eye-opening,” Markakis said of Freeman.
*Markakis reversed course on July 29, opting back into the season.
Pirates pitcher Héctor Noesí
The Pirates revealed on July 8 Noesí elected not to play for family reasons. He was on a minor league deal.
Also from Shelton, Hector Noesi opted out, citing family reasons.— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) July 9, 2020
Giants catcher Buster Posey
Posey, the Giants longtime backstop and three-time champion, revealed July 10 he won’t be playing this year. The 33-year-old and his wife recently adopted premature twin girls.
White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech
The White Sox announced July 10 Kopech will not play this year. The 24-year-old hadn’t arrived at Summer Camp due to personal reasons prior to Friday’s news.
"Michael Kopech has informed us of his decision to not participate in the 2020 season," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. "We recognize that reaching this decision is incredibly difficult for any competitive athlete, and our organization is understanding and supportive.
"We will work with Michael to assure his development continues throughout 2020, and we look forward to welcoming him back into our clubhouse for the 2021 season."
Cardinals pitcher Jordan Hicks
St. Louis announced Hicks opted out on July 13, citing pre-existing health concerns. The 23-year-old is recovering from June 2019 Tommy John surgery and is a Type 1 diabetic. He is eligible to receive salary and service time this year.
Red Sox pitcher Collin McHugh
Boston announced McHugh's decision on July 19. The right-hander underwent an elbow procedure in December and it wasn't coming around as he hoped in his recovery.
Cubs outfielder Mark Zagunis
The Cubs announced Zagunis decided to sit out the season on July 23 when they revealed their Opening Day roster. Zagunis was part of their 60-man player pool.
Rockies pitcher Tim Collins
The Rockies announced Collins' decision on July 27. He didn't make their 30-man Opening Day roster but was in their 60-man player pool.
Orioles pitcher Kohl Stewart
Stewart informed the Orioles of his decision on July 31, stating the "elevated risk of serious complications of COVID-19 due to Type 1 diabetes continues to be of great concern."
Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain
Cain announced his decision on Aug. 1, on the heels of multiple members of the Cardinals testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of their series against Milwaukee. The series was later postponed.
Marlins second baseman Isan Díaz
Díaz announced his decision on his Instagram story Aug. 1, in the midst of Miami's COVID-19 outbreak. His announcement cited seeing many of his teammates contract the coronavirus and how quickly it can spread.
Free agent pitcher Francisco Liriano
Liriano, a surprise cut by the Phillies shortly before Opening Day, opted to sit out the season on Aug. 2. He reportedly had multiple guaranteed contract offers.
Mets outfielder Yoenis Céspedes
Céspedes didn't report to New York's game in Atlanta on Aug. 2. The team sent security to his hotel room and he was no longer there. Céspedes' agent announced the outfielder's decision afterward.
Brewers pitcher Shelby Miller
The Brewers announced Aug. 3 that Miller decided to sit out the rest of the season. He had been training at their alternate site and didn't make a big league appearance prior to the decision.