Ian Desmond will opt out of playing this season, the Colorado Rockies outfielder announced Monday.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking,” he wrote at the end of a lengthy post on Instagram that touched on race and opportunities for youth baseball players.
“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,” Desmond wrote. “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, who grew up in Sarasota, Florida, made his major league debut with Washington in 2009. The two-time All-Star played for Texas for one season before signing with the Rockies.
In his Instagram post, Desmond said he has been sharing more of his thoughts and experiences as a biracial man since George Floyd’s death on May 25 in Minnesota. Floyd, a Black man, died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for more than seven minutes.
Desmond said his mind started racing during a recent visit to the Sarasota baseball fields that he played on as a kid. He wrote about how they looked run down and neglected and how important youth baseball was for him growing up.
“Why can’t we support teaching the game to all kids — but especially those in underprivileged communities?” Desmond wrote. “Why aren’t accessible, affordable youth sports viewed as an essential opportunity to affect kids’ development, as opposed to money-making propositions and recruiting chances? It’s hard to wrap your head around it.”
Desmond said he wants to help Sarasota Youth Baseball get back on track. “It’s what I can do, in the scheme of so much,” he wrote. “So, I am.”
Desmond has played 11 seasons, the past three with the Rockies. He batted .255 with 20 home runs and 65 RBIs in 140 games in 2019.
Desmond had been due $5,555,556 for the prorated share of his $15 million salary, part of a $70 million, five-year contract, according to The Associated Press. He is owed $8 million next year, and his deal includes a $15 million team option for 2022 with a $2 million buyout.
Earlier Monday, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake and Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross announced that they are opting out of the 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.