Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen announced Leake’s decision Monday, shortly before Washington teammates Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross opted out of the virus-shortened season.
“During this global pandemic, Mike and his family had many discussions about playing this season,” Leake’s agent, Danny Horwits, said in a statement Monday. “They took countless factors into consideration, many of which are personal to him and his family. After thorough consideration, he has chosen to opt out of playing in 2020. This was not an easy decision for Mike. He wishes the best of luck and health for his Diamondback teammates this season and he’s looking forward to 2021.”
Hazen also said two players on Arizona’s 60-man roster tested positive for COVID-19, as did another player not in Arizona.
The 32-year-old Leake started 10 games for Arizona after being traded from Seattle for outfielder Jose Caballero and cash in a 2019 deadline deal. Leake went 3-3 with a 4.35 ERA with Arizona and earned his first AL Gold Glove Award for his time with the Mariners.
Leake was included in the Diamondbacks’ 60-player pool released earlier Monday, but will be moved in a later transaction. He was expected to compete for a spot in the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation during the 60-game season.
“It definitely impacts us,” Hazen said. “Certainly, he’s a good major league starting pitcher. To what extent it’s going to impact us, it’s hard to say. I think I would probably have a different answer if it was over 162 (games) as opposed to if it was over 60.”
Major League Baseball is allowing players with preexisting medical conditions or compromised immune systems to opt out of the 2020 season, but Hazen would not elaborate about whether Leake falls under that category. Leake was due $5,555,556 as the prorated share of his $15 million salary.
His contract includes an $18 million club option for 2021 with a $5 million buyout.
The Diamondbacks also will be without two international prospects due to travel issues during the pandemic: outfielder Kristian Robinson of the Bahamas and Brazilian right-hander Bo Takahashi.
Right-hander Silvino Bracho was not in Arizona’s 60-man pool after he sustained elbow stiffness while trying to rehabilitate from Tommy John surgery last year.