LOS ANGELES — David Price, the former Cy Young Award winner who was heading into his first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, became the latest player to opt out of the 2020 season on Saturday, alluding to health concerns because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Price joins Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross of the Washington Nationals, Ian Desmond of the Colorado Rockies and Mike Leake of the Arizona Diamondbacks on the list of players who have chosen not to take part in a season that will consist of 60 games and strict social-distancing protocols.
Price, 34, posted a message to Dodgers fans on his social-media accounts that stated the following: “After considerable thought and discussion with my family and the Dodgers, I have decided it is in the best interest of my health and my family’s health for me to not play this season. I will miss my teammates and will be cheering for them throughout the season and on to a World Series victory. I’m sorry I won’t be playing for you this year, but look forward to representing you next year.”
Price came over from the Boston Red Sox alongside superstar outfielder Mookie Betts in a four-player deal in February. The four-time All-Star was supposed to slide in behind Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler in the Dodgers’ rotation. Julio Urias, Dustin May, Alex Wood and Jimmy Nelson are among the candidates to fill the final two spots in the rotation now that Price is opting out.
Players who choose not to play and are not considered high-risk individuals are not granted compensation or service time in 2020. Price, who previously agreed to pay more than 200 Dodgers minor leaguers $1,000 each to make up for lost wages, was set to enter the fifth season of a seven-year, $217 million contract he signed with the Red Sox in December of 2015.
More than 55,000 new coronavirus infections were reported across the U.S. on Thursday, setting a single-day global record. The death toll has exceeded 130,000, and 38 states — including California — are experiencing a rise in cases just as baseball looks to start up again. With that as the backdrop, star players such as Mike Trout and Buster Posey have begun to speak out about the trepidation towards playing. Price, who has two small children, was set to earn nearly $12 million in salary in 2020.
In a statement, the Dodgers said they “fully support David’s decision to sit out the 2020 season. We have been in constant contact with David and we understand how much this deliberation weighed on him and his family. We know he’ll be rooting hard for the club every day and look forward to having him back with us in 2021.”