Nats' Ryan Zimmerman, Joe Ross opt out of 2020 season

Ben Krimmel
June 29, 2020 - 3:39 pm

Washington Nationals veteran infielder Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross have decided not to play the 2020 MLB season, according to multiple media reports.

A day after the Nats submitted their 60-player pool for the potential 60-game MLB season, two players on the 40-man roster have decided to opt-out of the season, The Athletic's Britt Ghiroli was first to report the news. Zimmerman, a 15-year veteran with the Nationals, had written about his struggles with the decision of whether to play during the COVID-19 pandemic just days prior to making the announcement Monday.

In a statement posted on Twitter announcing his decision, Zimmerman said, "After a great deal of thought and given my family circumstances - three young children, including a newborn, and a mother at high risk - I have decided not to participate in the 2020 season."

"Of course I would love to pursue back-to-back titles. I cannot speak for anyone else, but given the unusual nature of the season, this is the best decision for me and my family, and I truly appreciate the organizations' understanding and support."

Zimmerman, who some wondered if he would retire after the 2019 season, said he is not ending his career. "To be clear, I am not retiring at this time. I have not decided on my future in baseball past 2020," the statement read. "But this year, I'll be staying safe at home and pulling as hard as anyone for the guys to defend our championship."

Nats' GM Mike Rizzo said in a statement the club supported the players' decisions. "We are one hundred percent supportive of their decision to not play this year," the statement read. "We will miss their presence in the clubhouse and their contributions on the field."

Ghiroli added that an additional two or three players on the defending World Series champion Nationals are "still deciding" whether they will play.

Prior to being told about the news of Zimmerman and Ross opting out, Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton confirmed to 106.7 The Fan's Chad Dukes he would play the 2020 season and expressed his excitement about playing. 

"As a team, we're excited because how close-knit that we became all throughout last year," Eaton told 106.7 The Fan. "And I think to be successful in a 60-game sprint, you're really gonna have to have a group of guys that just does not give a crap about anything besides baseball. And I think our clubhouse has that close-knit, you know, group mentality where we're gonna sacrifice everything, there's gonna be a lot of hotels, Xbox, Playstation, and, you know, baseball is basically gonna be it. Try to stay away from everything as possible, try to stay as healthy as possible."

After saying he would play, Eaton added that every ballplayer's situation is different when it comes to deciding whether it is safe for them and their family to play. "From my standpoint, I can't judge anybody," Eaton said on 106.7 The Fan.

"This is a tough situation that everyone has been kinda thrown in," Eaton said. "I think some people are seeing it as 'You know what? Tough situation, just deal with it. Make the best of it. And try to play through some stuff' and other people are (saying) 'You know (not playing) is the best decision for me' and you gotta go with it."

When told Zimmerman and Ross were opting out, Eaton told 106.7 the Fan, "Zim has given his whole life, basically, to the Washington Nationals. And like I said, it's a tough situation. He's got a newborn, he's got a lot of stuff going on with (his) house, hopefully, we'll have him back, if I'm back next year, of course.  

"With Joe, you don't know the circumstances. You don't know what may or may not be going on. And hopefully, they stay healthy, and next year, depending on everyone's contract situations they come back healthy and ready to go."

Eaton added, "They're both great people and it's so tough, it's so tough."

Listen to Chad Dukes' full conversation with Adam Eaton here:

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