Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond plans to sit out this season to be with his family and help grow youth baseball in his hometown, Sarasota.
Desmond, 34, a two-time All-Star, wrote Monday night on Instagram that the “COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking.” But Desmond, who is biracial, also mentioned a myriad of other issues within baseball, including racism, sexism, homophobia and socioeconomic concerns.
“With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what’s going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now,” Desmond wrote. “Home for my wife, Chelsey. Home to help. Home to guide. Home to answer my older three boys’ questions about Coronavirus and Civil Rights and life. Home to be their Dad.”
Desmond, who hit .255 with 20 homers in 140 games last season, had been due $5,555,556 this season for the prorated share of his $15 million salary, part of a $70 million, five-year contract. He is owed $8 million next year, and his deal includes a $15 million team option for 2022 with a $2 million buyout.
In searching for Desmond’s replacement, the Rockies were working on a minor-league deal with veteran Matt Kemp on Tuesday. Kemp has a .327 average with 21 home runs and 77 RBIs over 86 career games at Denver’s park.
Desmond made his major-league debut with Washington in 2009. He played for Texas for one season before signing with the Rockies.
In his Instagram post, Desmond said he has been sharing more of his thoughts and experiences as a biracial man since George Floyd’s death in Minnesota on May 25. Floyd, a Black man in handcuffs, died after a white police officer held his knee on his neck for nearly eight minutes.
Desmond said his mind started racing during a recent visit to the Sarasota baseball fields that he played on as a kid. He wrote that they looked run down and neglected, and how important youth baseball was for him growing up.
“Why can’t we support teaching the game to all kids — but especially those in underprivileged communities?” Desmond wrote. “Why aren’t accessible, affordable youth sports viewed as an essential opportunity to affect kids’ development, as opposed to money-making propositions and recruiting chances? It’s hard to wrap your head around it.”
Desmond said he wants to help Sarasota Youth Baseball get back on track.
“It’s what I can do, in the scheme of so much,” he wrote. “So, I am.”