On Friday it was reported that Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman was considering opting out of the 2020 season. He has considered it. And yes, he is opting out. That’s the report from Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic. Zimmerman previously cited the facts that (a) he has a three-week-old baby at home; and (b) his mother has multiple sclerosis, which compromises a person’s immune system. In light of that it’s understandable that he has decided to err on the side of caution.
Per Major League Baseball’s health and safety guidelines, Zimmerman will forfeit his pay and service time for 2020, as only a high risk on the part of the player himself, as opposed to family members, triggers the pay/service time protections built in to the agreement between MLB and the MLBPA.
Zimmerman re-signed with the Nationals on a one-year, $2 million contract over the offseason after being limited to just 52 games due to injury last year. It was thought that if he could not re-sign with Washington that he’d prefer to retire. In light of his opting-out of the 2020 season, it’s very possible that Zimmerman’s big league career is now, effectively, over.
UPDATE: Zimmerman is saying he is NOT retiring:
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported last night that Major League Baseball is “actively pursuing an additional medical lab site to increase the speed and efficiency” of MLB COVID-19 tests.
The current setup — as planned by MLB and approved by the MLBPA as a part of the plan to play the 2020 season — is for all MLB COVID-19 tests to be sent to and processed by MLB’s PED testing lab in Salt Lake City, Utah. As you likely heard, there have been delays in the administration of COVID-19 tests and in the shipping of tests to Utah, but to date no one has reported that the lab itself has not been able to handle the tests once they’ve arrived there. If MLB is looking for a second lab site a week into this process, it suggests that their plans for the Utah lab might not be working the way they had anticipated.
The issues with testing have created unease around the game in recent days, with some players and team executives speaking out against Major League Baseball’s handling of the plan in the early going. Commissioner Rob Manfred, meanwhile, has responded defensively to the criticism.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported this morning that, months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States still lacks testing capacity. From the report:
Lines for coronavirus tests have stretched around city blocks and tests ran out altogether in at least one site on Monday, new evidence that the country is still struggling to create a sufficient testing system months into its battle with Covid-19 . . .“It’s terrifying, and clearly an evidence of a failure of the system,” said Dr. Morgan Katz, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins Hospital . . . in recent weeks, as cases have surged in many states, the demand for testing has soared, surpassing capacity and creating a new testing crisis.
It’s less than obvious, to say the least, how Major League Baseball plans to expand capacity for MLB COVID-19 tests while America as a whole is experiencing “a new testing crisis” and a “failure of the system.” At the very least it’s less than obvious how, even if Major League Baseball can do so, it can do so ethically.