11 MLB Umpires Reportedly Opt Out of 2020 Season amid COVID-19

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2020

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JULY 09: Former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek umpires in an intrasquad game during Summer Workouts at Fenway Park on July 09, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

With the 2020 MLB season set to begin on July 23, 11 umpires have decided to opt out or not participate, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. 

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the league is offering full pay and service time to umpires who are at high risk of suffering serious illness if they contract COVID-19. This reportedly includes consideration for age and medical history among the umpires.

As Heyman noted, some umpires who opted out have family members who are ill.

Veteran umpire Joe West previously announced he wouldn't opt out despite being considered at-risk by MLB, per Rosenthal. He also reportedly didn't wear a mask during recent intrasquad games, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The league is otherwise doing its part to limit the spread of the coronavirus among umpires, including the requirement for all to get tested upon arriving. According to Jesse Rogers of ESPN, the league could also keep crews in the same location throughout a homestand rather than moving on after each series.

This could help reduce travel over the course of the 60-game season.

There are also harsher punishments for arguing with umpires during games which could help limit close contact.