The 2020 60-game season is scheduled to start a week from Friday. With the return of the sport, hard decisions had to be made for those most directly put at risk — the players.
Players were given the opportunity to not play this season. However, not all players have the same options. Those who fall into the “high risk” category can opt out of the season and still get their full pro-rated salaries as well as their service time. Players who aren’t high risk are still allowed to sit out the season, however, those players won’t get salary at all this year nor will they accrue service time.
To date, only a small number of players have announced they will skip the season, but there have been a few big names, including David Price of the Dodgers and Buster Posey of the Giants.. A star player making that decision could alter not only his team’s outlook this year, but the outlook of the entire league due to the compressed schedule. Here’s a full list of players and coaches who have opted out.
Cubs righthander Yu Darvish, in fact, still hasn’t 100 percent decided about playing the 2020 season, per Mark Gonzales of the Tribune:
Darvish still has trepidation about playing during the COVID-19 pandemic, something he expressed shortly after pitching the last game of spring training four months ago.
And he hasn’t closed the door on opting out of this season, particularly because of the delays in testing that have pushed back the start of several workouts.
Asked via an interpreter Sunday if he might change his mind at some point about pitching in the 60-game season, Darvish said: “Maybe. But at this point, no, I don’t think so.”
Even with those risks, though, fans seem to be understanding of players making that hard choice. According to the latest SB Nation MLB FanPulse survey, 86 percent of fans say they would understand if a key player on their favorite team decided to miss the 2020 season.
The remaining fans were split, with eight percent saying they would be mad at baseball if that were to happen and five percent saying they would be mad at the player.
63 percent of fans said they would participate this season if they were a MLB player. However, when asked if they believe the MLB social distancing rules, which include no spitting and not being allowed within six feet of an umpire, more than two-thirds said those protocols were unrealistic to enforce.
Meanwhile, Darvish predicts that baseball could still wind up shutting down:
“At some point, somebody will get the coronavirus, I think,” Darvish said at the time. “If somebody will get it, I think MLB will do the same thing as NBA.”
MLB suspended spring training and delayed season openers the next day.
Fast forward to Sunday, and Darvish’s apprehension persists.
“Yes, definitely, I still have concerns,” he said.
As always, we await developments.