Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman has opted out of playing in 2020. Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Zimmerman becomes biggest MLB name to opt out of 2020 season

Shortly after Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Mike Leake became the first known MLB player to elect not to play in the 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic, Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman became the first All-Star to officially opt out.

On Monday, the Nationals announced that Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross won't play this summer "for the personal health and safety of themselves and their loves ones."

Zimmerman released a lengthy statement explaining his decision: 

"After a great deal of thought and given my family circumstances -- three young children including a newborn, and a mother at high risk -- I have decided not to participate in the 2020 season.
"Everyone knows how much it means to me to be a part of a team, and I will miss that camaraderie dearly this year. Of course I would love to pursue back-to-back titles. I cannot speak for anyone else, but given the unusual nature of the season, this is the best decision for me and my family, and I truly appreciate the organization's understanding and support.

"To be clear, I am not retiring at this time. I have not decided on my future in baseball past 2020. But this year I'll be staying safe at home and pulling as hard as anyone for our guys to defend their championship."

Zimmerman, a two-time All-Star, won his first World Series ring with the Nationals last fall. The 35-year-old who made his first appearance with the franchise back in 2005 was on a one-year contract.

He batted .257 with six home runs and 27 RBI in 171 regular-season at-bats last season. 

Katherine Acquavella of CBS Sports wrote Zimmerman and Ross will both forgo their salaries. 

Zac Wassink is a football and futbol aficionado who is a PFWA member and is probably yelling about Tottenham Hotspur at the moment. Erik Lamela and Eli Manning apologist. Chanted for Matt Harvey to start the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field. Whoops. You can find him on Twitter at @ZacWassink

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