A total of 11 umpires have opted out of the 2020 MLB season, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports. As Heyman writes, some of the umpires who are opting out "are said to have family members who are ill."
The 2020 season is set to begin on July 23, which is almost four months after the originally scheduled Opening Day of March 26. The delay is because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Since COVID-19 can be especially dangerous to older demographics and those with pre-existing health conditions like diabetes and asthma, that multiple umpires have thought better of participating isn't particularly surprising. Like MLB players, umpires with pre-existing conditions that make them more prone to COVID-related complications can opt out of the 2020 season while still being paid. It's not clear how many of the 11 umpires meet those requirements.
According to this list at MLB.com, there are 91 current MLB umpires, which means roughly 12 percent of the MLB umpiring workforce has opted out. MLB had planned to use 19 full umpiring crews this season, which means a total of 76 umpires. If indeed just 80 umpires are participating in the 2020 season, then that's very little cushion for in-season attrition, routine or otherwise. That said, any number of minor-league umpires are likely available for duty given that the minor league season for 2020 has been canceled.
Veteran umpire Joe West confirmed last week that he will be working during the 2020 season, while also saying he didn't "believe" that the reported number of COVID-19 deaths were all related to the virus. The MLB umpires union issued a statement distancing itself from West after the comments.