Ian Desmond of the Colorado Rockies is the first Major League Baseball player to publicly opt out of the 2021 MLB season. Desmond opted out of the 2020 season as well, citing racism in baseball and society, and his experience as a biracial person in America.
Here is Desmond's announcement, which he made on Instagram on Sunday.
Over the last few months, I've had tough conversations. 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.
This impacts a lot of people, some positively and some negatively, and I own that. At the end of the day, this weighs on me more than anyone but I'm following my heart and I 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.
MLB's health and safety protocols again allow players to opt out of the 2021 season, though this year they can change their mind and return at any time. Last year players had to return by a certain date.
Desmond, 35, is entering the final season of his five-year, $70 million contract. He forfeited $5.6 million in prorated salary last year and stands to forfeit another $8 million in salary this year, assuming he does not opt back in at some point. Players who are not high-risk individuals do not get paid nor accrue service time after opting out.
In parts of four years with Colorado, Desmond is a .252/.313/.429 hitter with 49 homers in 385 games. He was expected to assume a bench role in 2021, but could have received regular playing time at first base.
Rockies pitchers and catchers reported to spring training this past Thursday. Position players are due to report this coming Tuesday.
All told, 22 players opted out of the 2020 season.