Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond announced he will not play a second straight MLB season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Over the last few months, I've had tough conversations," the 11-year veteran wrote in an Instagram story post. "I've asked a lot of questions and done a lot of thinking. For now, I've decided to opt out of the 2021 season. My desire to be with my family is greater than my desire to go back and play baseball under these circumstances. I'm going to continue to train and watch how things unfold."
Ian Desmond has announced that he is opting out of the 2021 season “for now.” pic.twitter.com/fZXTRrufjY
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) February 21, 2021
Desmond won't play for Rockies 'for now'
Desmond, 35, is in the final year of a five-year, $70 million deal and is slated to make $8 million this year. The Rockies have a $15 million option for 2022 with a $2 million buyout. He noted his choice has an impact on others.
"This impacts a lot of people, some positively and some negatively, and I own that. At the end of the day, this weights on me more than anyone but I'm following my heart and feel good about my decision. I've let my teammates know, as well as the coaching staff and front office, and they have all been extremely understanding and supportive. I wish nothing but the best for the entire Rockies organization and have let them know I am willing to do whatever I can to help them from afar. Thank you."
The team is set to start full-squad workouts in Arizona on Tuesday. Earlier this month the front office traded eight-time Gold Glove winner Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals. Desmond is a .263 hitter over his career with 181 home runs and 711 RBIs. He played 140 games for Colorado in 2019 and had 20 homers.
Desmond opted out of shortened 2020 season
Desmond's comments were shorter than his nine-slide Instagram post in June of 2020 announcing he would not take part in the league's shortened 60-game 2020 season.
He wrote then he was needed most at home, not on the diamond, due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing Black Lives Matter movement taking off.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk that I am not comfortable taking,” Desmond wrote in June 2020. "With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what's going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now."
His comments touched on the lack of diversity in MLB as well as cheating, sexism, homophobia and labor disputes in the sport. He vowed to help grow youth baseball in his native Sarasota, Florida.
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