Ian Desmond has opted out for the second consecutive season, leaving the Rockies scrambling to fill another gap in the lineup.
Desmond made the announcement on Instagram on Sunday morning.
“My desire to be with my family is greater than my desire to go back and play baseball under these circumstances,” Desmond wrote. “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.”
Desmond also opted out of the 2020 season. By missing the two seasons, he will have forfeited $23 million in salary from the five-year, $70 million deal he signed before the 2017 season.
"He’s doing this for the right reasons," said manager Bud Black, who said Desmond had mentioned opting out as a possibility in private conversations in recent weeks. "This was a decision not about money. This was from the heart and the stomach. This was hard. This was agonizing for him.
"Of course I wanted him back. I told him so."
This likely ends Desmond’s time with Colorado. He hit .252 in 395 games for the Rockies with 49 home runs and 192 RBIs. His Wins Above Replacement, according to baseball-reference.com, registered at -3.2 during that time.
Without Desmond’s right-handed bat, the Rockies have Raimel Tapia, Sam Hilliard and Charlie Blackmon — all left-handed hitters — in the outfield. Utility man Garrett Hampson is also available to play in the outfield and hit from the right side.
The Rockies also have 26-year-old Yonathan Daza on the 40-man roster. The right-handed hitter played in 44 games in 2019 and owns a .318/.359/.438 slash line in 683 career minor league games.
Black also mentioned Chris Owings and Bret Boswell as players who could see their roles expanded by Desmond's departure.
Desmond had been instrumental — along with veterans Scott Oberg and Trevor Story — in communicating with teammates following Colorado’s trade of Nolan Arenado in January.
“I think the intention was just to make sure that we were all sticking together,” Oberg said last week. “You never want to see a clubhouse go 25, 26 different directions. You want to make sure that at the end of the day, regardless of how we’re playing that we stick together as a club and as a team."
Black said Desmond's leadership qualities showed up in those conversations with teammates, and he wasn't surprised he was trying to keep the team together even as he was privately contemplating an opt out.
"I think it just shows how much he cared about the team," Black said.