Two more players opted out of the 2020 MLB season on Friday, amid the coronavirus pandemic: San Francisco Giants star catcher Buster Posey, and Chicago White Sox rookie pitcher Michael Kopech. Posey announced his decision in a Zoom call with reporters, and Kopech’s news was given via a team press release, per insider Scott Merkin.
These latest opt-outs now bring the total to 12 players who will voluntarily sit out the season. Players who do so without medical at-risk exemptions forfeit their salaries and won’t receive service time this year, which is the case for all dozen opt-outs so far.
Posey explained in his video that he and his wife have adopted twin babies, who were born prematurely last week. After discussing with doctors, the family decided their best interest included Posey stepping away from the game this summer during the pandemic.
On the field, the loss of Posey will be a blow to a Giants team that already figured to be on the weaker side. The former MVP didn’t hit well last year at age 32, but still has been an All-Star in six of the last eight seasons and plays a premium position on the diamond, on top of being the general face of the franchise. Replacement options behind the plate include minor league free agents Rob Brantly and Tyler Heineman, who each have prior MLB experience.
Posey’s absence also directly affects the Oakland A’s, who will play six games against the Giants this summer — that’s 10% of their entire 60-game schedule. The NL West has been hit particularly hard by opt-outs so far, with the Dodgers losing former Cy Young starter David Price, the D’Backs losing durable starter Mike Leake, and the Rockies losing slugger and potential DH candidate Ian Desmond.
The same A’s implications can’t be said for Kopech, whose White Sox won’t play Oakland at all in this season’s strictly regional schedule, but nonetheless this was set to be a big year for the 24-year-old right-hander. After missing 2019 to Tommy John surgery, he was back on the mound this spring and still registering triple-digits on the radar gun, showing the form that has him on current Top 20 national prospect lists.
Here is the full list of MLB players who have opted out of 2020 so far, with Kopech being the first from the American League:
- RHP Felix Hernandez, ATL
- RHP Michael Kopech, CHW
- RHP Mike Leake, ARZ
- RHP Hector Noesi, PIT
- LHP David Price, LAD
- RHP Joe Ross, WAS
- RHP Tyson Ross, free agent
- C Welington Castillo, WAS
- C Buster Posey, SF
- 1B Ryan Zimmerman, WAS
- OF Ian Desmond, COL
- OF Nick Markakis, ATL
(Update: Add one more to the list, as Cardinals RHP Jordan Hicks opted out on Monday.)
Also on Friday, the league released the final results of its intake screening testing. Of 3,748 samples tested, 66 came back positive (from 27 different teams), of which 58 were players. There have been an additional 7,401 samples tested as part of ongoing monitoring, yielding another 17 new positives (from 10 teams), including 13 players. That makes 83 total positives around the league so far, for a 0.7% rate.