Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond said on Monday he will opt out of the upcoming MLB season to be with his family and to support the community in his hometown of Sarasota, Florida.
Desmond made the announcement in an eloquent Instagram post in which he cited several other factors in his decision, including racism and baseball's lack of access to underprivileged youth in many major cities. The 11-year veteran is biracial.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking," Desmond wrote.
"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. Home for my wife, Chelsey. Home to help. Home to guide. Home to answer my older three boys' questions about Coronavirus and Civil Rights and life. Home to be their Dad."
Desmond added that he will also be spending time volunteering at the Little League program in Sarasota where he played as a youth.
"That doesn't mean I'm leaving baseball behind for the year. I'll be right here, at my old Little League, and I'm working with everyone involved to make sure we get Sarasota Youth Baseball back on track. It's what I can do, in the scheme of so much," he wrote.
The two-time All-Star, who hit .255 with 20 home runs and 65 RBIs in 140 games for Colorado last season, would have earned just over $5.5million of his prorated $15m salary had he chosen to play in 2020.
Desmond is the fourth player to declare he will be skipping the season. Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman and team-mate Joe Ross announced their intentions earlier on Monday along with Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake.