Yankees: Gerrit Cole Can’t Opt Out of 2020 Season and Get Full Service Time
By Adam Weinrib
After conflicting reports emerged, MLB clarified its policy for players with pregnant spouses like Gerrit Cole.
After months of back-and-forth, the league’s final health and safety protocol was cleared on Tuesday night, and the 2020 MLB season is officially back in action.
Now, the complicated part begins.
It’s widely expected that, upon a return to Spring Training, we will be overwhelmed with news about positive tests from prominent players, 40-man roster talents, and staffers alike — Rockies star Charlie Blackmon has already tested positive in the past 24 hours. That will be the first hurdle in determining just what MLB is equipped to handle and what they’re prepared to do to increase isolation.
Of course, there are some players who may not report at all. Players who are high risk can opt out for full pay, and others may simply choose to do so while collecting no pay whatsoever. An erroneous report leaked out on Tuesday that indicated players with pregnant or high-risk spouses could opt out and accrue full service time and pay, but that was later debunked, and the official policy was revealed on Wednesday morning.
Those details are especially applicable to New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, whose wife Amy is pregnant.
Pending complications, it now appears Cole is only able to leave the team, with pay, for a three-day period. However, the Yankees could also theoretically opt to pay Cole for longer if need be, considering he’s such a valued member of their roster.
This changes the moral calculus for Cole, without a doubt. If he’d been allowed to opt out while receiving service time, New York would lose a year of control, but his full prorated salary would’ve been delivered. Now, Cole could be with his wife, go without pay in 2020, and tack another full season onto his Yankees contract in the process.
Other players impacted include Angels icon Mike Trout, and Phillies star Bryce Harper, both also cohabitating with pregnant partners.
Based on Harper’s reaction to the news of the season’s approval, though, he appears ready to report, serving as our first test case for such a scenario.
Cole, of course, also broke into Yankee Stadium last week to pitch with Adam Ottavino, indicating he’s itching for competition, too.
One down, two more to go.
In the coming days, we’ll need to keep our eyes peeled for Cole’s decision about what will be a very weird 2020 campaign, if it ever gets off the ground in the first place.