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MLB Trade Rumors and News: Joe Smith opts out of the 2020 season

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MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Houston Astros Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB Daily Dish is a daily feature we’re running here at MLBDD that rounds up roster-impacting news, rumors, and analysis. Have feedback or have something that should be the shared? Hit us up at @mlbdailydish on Twitter or @MLBDailyDish on Instagram.

  • The number of players who have opted out of the 2020 season seems to be growing steadily and yesterday was no different as Astros reliever Joe Smith opted out. His decision was expected for a while as he cited health concerns for his family as to why he wasn’t in camp yet, but this is yet another reminder that players are constantly thinking about whether or not playing this season is worth it.
  • With the introduction of the universal DH and Nick Markakis’ decision to opt out of the 2020 season, the Braves evidently found it prudent to add to their already deep collection of outfielders, agreeing to terms with veteran outfielder Yasiel Puig on Tuesday. It was surprising to see Puig remain on the free-agent market this long, but he should be a nice addition to a Braves team that’s a strong contender to win the NL pennant in 2020.
  • There have been two types of players who have been opting out of the 2020 season, those who are at-risk and those who are not. While we completely understand the rationales for both camps, the latest play who decided to opt out is at-risk as Jordan Hicks made the difficult decision yesterday. Not only is he recovering from injury, but he is also a diabetic. We hope for nothing but the best for all of these guys.
  • You know what, while we’re here...here’s a tracker of all the players who have opted out of the 2020 season so far (expect an update, like every day.)
  • While the general idea behind schedules for the 2020 season has been known for a while, we finally have the official schedule as it was released last week. Each team will play 40 divisional games as well as 20 interleague games against their divisional counterparts...so NL East vs. AL East, etc., etc. We are just glad to be talking about actual baseball things and will ignore the fact that the schedules look really weird.
  • More and more players are starting to pop up as positive with coronavirus as tests are being processed which, in itself, has been an ordeal. To help you keep track of all of the public information on COVID-19 in MLB, you should check out the tracker we put together. The latest addition to the list? Aroldis Chapman.
  • Masahiro Tanaka suffered a mild concussion after being hit by a line drive off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton, reports the New York Daily News’ Kristie Ackert. While alert and responsive, he’s been placed on concussion protocol and will be monitored daily. The 31-year old is in his seventh season with the Bronx Bombers and a serious injury like a concussion on top of what is already and abridged season would really damped his chances of resigning with the club when he hits free agency this offseason.
  • The 2020 MLB All-Star Game is officially cancelled, in case anyone out there was speculating what was gonna go on with that. Given the world hasn’t burst into flames by then, Los Angeles is set to host in 2022.
  • Actual baseball things are happening right now. Not labor negotiations. Not negotiations about labor negotiations. Actual baseball things. Baseball returned this week with players having to report for ‘spring’ training workouts. While the world around us is very difficult, it is nice to have sports to talk about...and there is proof and everything that baseball is back.
  • Rob Manfred and MLB’s owners had done a truly bad job of hiding the fact that they were negotiating in bad faith with the players, but at least they weren’t saying it out loud...until now. Few were confused by the fact that while the owners gave out proposals with differing percentages and numbers of games, the owners never appreciably offered to pay for more than about 60 games’ worth of fully prorated salary which is EXACTLY what we ended up with. Unfortunately, Manfred said the quiet part out loud when he said that MLB was never going to play more than 60 games regardless of how the negotiations were going. Not only does that comment diminish the league’s/owners’ chances in the inevitable grievance that players bring, but it also gives the appearance to fans that Manfred and co. dragged the entire sport through the mud over the last few months for nothing.
  • In news that was expected but still highly unfortunate, Minor League Baseball announced last week that its 2020 season is cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Needless to say, this news is absolutely awful for countless minor-league players, coaches, team employees, and broadcasters who are trying to move up the ladder in baseball and will have to put their dreams on hold for another year.
  • When Mike Leake announced that he was opting out of the 2020 season without pay, it felt a little more like an outlier situation rather than something that could spread throughout the league. Don’t get us wrong, we respect the hell out of Leake’s decision, but we didn’t think he would be the first of many. That could prove to be a mistake on our part as Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, and Joe Ross quickly followed him in opting out of the season. Desmond’s essay from Instagram is a must-read, btw.
  • Cant say we’re too surprised by this one: The Red Sox have placed ace Chris Sale on the 60-day IL, thus canning him for the season. Sale went under the knife in March for Tommy John surgery, and was expected the miss this season anyway, if there was even going to be a season to miss. But now that contracts have been ironed out and a date for baseball has been set, the Red Sox have made it official.
  • Until there’s an effective treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, virtually every fun thing in life is going to be accompanied by an asterisk, uncertain to actually happen until the day it occurs due to the unpredictable nature of the virus. But it looks likelier than ever before that there will be some form of a 2020 MLB season, as the league and the players’ union worked out all their disagreements last week and announced plans to play a 60-game schedule with numerous rule changes and protocols to keep players safe and curtail spread of the virus. Now we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed that the league is able to keep COVID-19 spread under control for the next four months or so.
  • Chris Archer recently went under the knife to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. The timing of the procedure means that he will not play during the 2020 season regardless of when it starts or how many games it ends up being. Given that TOS can be a really scary thing to have, we wish Chris a speedy and successful recovery.
  • More scandal? Sure, I’ll take a sprinkling. A New York District judge has ordered Major League Baseball and the Yankees to unseal a letter from 2017 sent from Rob Manfred to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. First reported by Evan Drellich of The Athletic, The letter allegedly details the extend of rule violations that occurred in the 2015-16 season. If this isn’t brand new information, it’s like the other charge from 2017 that found the Yankees in violation of using a cellphone in the dugout during games. However, if it’s another full scale sign cheating scandal, the Yankees are heading back to court. They are expected to appeal the ruling.
  • In tragic, unsettling news, MLB teams have released hundreds of minor league players, with more players likely to be released in the coming weeks. As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds across the country, billionaires are making the choices to cut menial, insignificant costs in the form of the people who make them money. If you’re looking to help during this difficult times, tweet us at @mlbdailydish while we work with Adopt A Minor Leaguer to help find sponsors for MiLB players struggling.
  • MLB and Minor League Baseball are reportedly close to an agreement that would cause 42 minor-league teams to lose their big-league affiliations. While there are perhaps a few positives to be taken from this deal — every club will have the same number of minor-league affiliates, travel will be more efficient, and minor-leaguers will get paid more — it’s extremely rough news for employees and fans in the affected markets and the players whose dreams will be crushed as more than 1,000 jobs are eliminated.
  • After undergoing Tommy John surgery last September, Adam Warren’s baseball suitors weren’t exactly beating down his door for a contract. However, he was able to snag a deal with a team he’s already very familiar with: the Yankees. The reliever has worked out a two-year minor league contract with the club, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. He would already be spending 2020 recovering from surgery, so the added time given the current situation only strengthens his case for a good comeback in 2021.
  • There is a lot of potential weirdness surrounding the current COVID-19 situation and what the loss of regular season games or even the whole season could mean for various players and team employees. However, one such area of weirdness has already been ironed out as it has been reported that even if the 2020 season doesn’t happen, the punishments handed down to the Astros’ Jeff Luhnow and AJ Hinch will be considered served.