Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman opts out of 2020 MLB season

Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman officially opted out of the 2020 MLB season on Monday, a few days after expressing apprehension about the idea of playing during the coronavirus pandemic.

The two-time All-Star joined his Nationals teammate and pitcher Joe Ross, as well as Diamondbacks Mike Leake, in the first wave of known MLB players to opt out of the season.

“After a great deal of thought and given my family circumstances – three young children, including a newborn, and a mother at high risk – I have decided not to participate in the 2020 season,” the 35-year-old said in a statement. “Everyone knows how much it means to me to be part of a team, and I will miss that camaraderie dearly this year. Of course I would love to pursue back-to-back titles. I cannot speak for anyone else, but given the unusual nature of the season, this is the best decision for me and my family, and I truly appreciate the organization’s understanding and support.

“To be clear, I am not retiring at this time. I have not decided on my future in baseball past 2020. But this year, I’ll be staying safe at home and pulling as hard as anyone for the guys to defend our championship.”

MLB owners and players recently came to an agreement on the logistics of a 60-game season, which includes players receiving full prorated pay.

Zimmerman, who signed a one-year, $2 million extension with the Nationals, is thus forfeiting $740,000 by not playing. He has made around $140 million in 14 seasons with the Nationals.

Zimmerman seemed uneasy last week about the idea of playing.

“I have a 3-week-old baby,” he wrote in a first-person column for The Associated Press. “My mother has multiple sclerosis and is super high-risk; if I end up playing, I can pretty much throw out the idea of seeing her until weeks after the season is over.”

Zimmerman, who was drafted fourth overall by the Nationals in 2005, posted a .257 batting average in 52 games last season, along with 27 RBIs and six home runs. He battled a foot injury that sidelined him for part of the 2019 season.

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