Several MLB players have already announced their decisions to opt out of the 2020 MLB season over coronavirus safety concerns, and many more are likely to do the same over the next few days.
But will the rest of the players on those teams losing key members support or resent these decisions?
Former Mets and Yankees left-hander Mike Stanton joined Moose & Maggie on Tuesday to discuss this situation, and when asked by Maggie Gray if what players may say publicly about supporting their opting-out teammates differs from what they may think privately, Stanton had a blunt answer.
“Yeah, I would love to say there won’t be any resentment, but of course there is,” Stanton said. “In several situations, you can understand it, like with Ryan Zimmerman’s mother – but I’m not sure how much the Washington Nationals were going to be relying on Ryan Zimmerman anyway. In extenuating circumstances, you have to do things that are right for you, but there’s going to be some resentment, especially if the players who opt out really had a chance to help you win.”
Zimmerman, who has a newborn child and a mother suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, has opted out of 2020 in part to protect his family. And, as Stanton alluded to, Zimmerman is well on the back nine of a career that has earned him nine figures and a World Series title, and even though he was a key contributor to the Nationals’ title run last year, he was likely to see most of his time in 2020 as the designated hitter in the NL’s new universal DH reality.
But will the ease of that decision be the same for others?
“To tell you the truth, there will still be conflict within those players themselves. It’s easy to opt out right now with the best of intentions, but what happens when the guys are on the field?” Stanton asked. “That’s when the real turmoil will happen, because you know that that has been your livelihood and a large part of who you are. To see guys you’ve gone to battle with in the past out there performing, that’s going to really start causing problems.”
Stanton has Type 2 Diabetes, so he can understand players weighing health risks, but using himself as an example, he also noted that every
“Would I play this year? 100 percent – I’ve been out for over a decade and I still want the ball now,” he joked, “but I’m not in one of those circumstances; I’m Type-2 Diabetic, but my loved ones are healthy and my kids are older, and I don’t have any other health issues really, so I’d feel comfortable. That’s why this is such an individual decision, though, because everyone is in a different spot, and you can’t blame them if they do opt out.”