Phillies GM Matt Klentak said Monday afternoon that as of then, no player on the Phillies' 54-man player pool had opted out of the season.
Shortly thereafter, news broke that two Washington Nationals players, Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross, had opted out of the season "for the personal health and safety of themselves and their loved ones."
Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Mike Leake and Rockies infielder/outfielder Ian Desmond also opted out. The Phillies are not slated to play either NL West team this season so it has little to no impact on them, but they do play the Nationals 10 times.
All four players are sacrificing their prorated 2020 salaries to opt out. Only players deemed high-risk for contracting COVID-19 earn full prorated pay and service time when opting out of the season.
Zimmerman has been a Nationals staple for 15 years. He's Mr. National. His role has diminished over the last two seasons, however. Zimmerman has totaled just 513 plate appearances over the last two years, hitting .261/.331/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI.
In a statement, Zimmerman made clear that he is not retiring and plans to try to play in 2021. An NL East lifer, Zimmerman is a career .270 hitter against the Phillies with a .799 OPS, 27 homers and 111 RBI in 197 games.
Zimmerman was slated to play some first base in a platoon with Eric Thames and also would have seen time as the Nats' DH. Without him, Washington's lineup could look like this:
1. Trea Turner, SS
2. Adam Eaton, RF
3. Howie Kendrick, DH
4. Juan Soto, LF
5. Eric Thames, 1B
6. Starlin Castro, 2B
7. Victor Robles, CF
8. Yan Gomes, C
9. Carter Kieboom, 3B
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Ross was set to battle for the Nats' fifth starter job. He's made starts for the Nationals in each of the last five seasons, posting a 4.29 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 335⅓ innings. He made three excellent starts against the Phillies in 2016, going 2-0 with a 1.66 ERA, but a much-improved Phillies offense in 2019 lit him up in a relief appearance, scoring five runs as Ross collected just one out.
With Ross out of the mix, the Nats' likeliest fifth starter is Erick Fedde.
It is unlikely that these are the only four players who will opt out of the 2020 season. The absence of key players will provide yet another unique element to this challenging 60-game season ahead.