Houston Astros relief pitcher Joe Smith is opting out of the 2020 MLB season, becoming the latest player to sit out this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Astros’ relief pitcher Joe Smith opts-out of MLB season
The Astros will be without Smith, their right-hand reliever, this season with the 36-year-old sitting out due to the health risks of playing during the pandemic.
The news, first reported by The Athletic’s Jim Bowden, makes Smith the 14th player to elect not to play this season due to the health crisis.
Houston’s bullpen will take a hit after an offseason that saw them lose set-up man Will Harris. The club had re-signed Smith to a two-year, $8 million contract this offseason.
Smith was one of the most effective relievers in baseball during the 2019 season, recording a 1.80 ERA and 0.95 WHIP across 25 innings.
What MLB players are sitting out the 2020 season?
MLB’s Opening Day is set to begin on July 23, with teams making their final preparations for the 60-game season. However, baseball continues to see a wave of players exercising the opt-out clause due to the risks of playing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- Chicago White Sox star pitcher Michael Kopech opted out of the 2020 season.
- Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price, projected to be the No. 3 starter, is sitting out this year.
- St. Louis Cardinals closer Jordan Hicks opted out on Monday.
- San Francisco Giants star Buster Posey won’t take part in the 2020 season
- Washington Nationals catcher Welington Castillo will not play this year.
- Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond won’t take part this season.
- Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross both opted out of playing.
- Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake is sitting out the 2020 season.
- Atlanta Braves outfielder Nick Markakis opted out after a conversation with teammate Freddie Freeman, who has COVID-19 and is dealing with symptoms.
- Braves pitcher Felix Hernandez is sitting out this year due to COVID-19 concerns.
MLB also recently learned that 11 umpires will not take part in the upcoming season. The league could be in danger of seeing even more personnel sit out if the pandemic worsens.