Today, Ian Desmond announced that he will opt out of the 2021 season “for now.” The veteran outfielder will miss his second straight year of baseball to be with his family. He announced his decision Sunday morning via Instagram, writing:
Over the last few months, I’ve had tough conversations. I’ve asked a lot of questions and done a lot of thinking. For now, I’ve decided to opt out of the 2021 season. My desire to be with my family is greater than my desire to go back and play baseball under these circumstances. I’m going to continue to train and watch how things unfold.
This impacts a lot of people, some positively and some negatively, and I own that. At the end of the day, this weighs on me more than anyone but I’m following my heart and I feel good about my decision. I’ve let my teammates know, as well as the coaching staff and front office, and they have all been extremely understanding and supportive. I wish nothing but the best for the entire Rockies organization and have let them know I am willing to do whatever I can to help them from afar. Thank you.
Desmond also opted out before last year’s truncated MLB season, citing coronavirus concerns. He announced that decision in a lengthy and thoughtful Instagram post, in which he addressed not only COVID but racial injustice in baseball and in American society at large. In that same post, Desmond also pledged to help restore youth baseball in his hometown of Sarasota, Florida. A few months later, he is staying true to his promise by launching his Newtown Connection charity.
With two straight seasons of opt-outs, the 35-year-old will walk away from $13.56 million in salary. Meanwhile, Desmond’s five-year contract with the Rockies is set to expire next year, and he’ll have a $15 million option or $2 million buyout.
Desmond is perhaps the most notable athlete to opt out of a major sports league twice in the pandemic era. And if he thinks his time is better spent with his family and community, well, that’s his choice.
Hats off to him for making that call.