DENVER – Colorado Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich says he supports Ian Desmond's decision to stay out of the 2020 season to focus on his young family and help rejuvenate youth baseball in his hometown of Florida.
Bridich says he had a couple of recent conversations with the 34-year-old outfielder who announced his decision in a long and candid Instagram post on Monday night.
Desmond wrote that "the COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable with." The biracial slugger also cited a myriad of problems within baseball, including sexism, homophobia, and socioeconomic concerns, as well as the racial calculus that emerged after George Floyd's death while in police custody in Minneapolis sparked protests across the globe. world.
"The conversations with Ian felt exactly the same as his written words to me," said Bridich, "which is heartfelt and heartfelt. … I didn't know I was going to write something as thoughtful and understanding as (he did), but I didn't. it surprises me ".
Desmond, who hit .255 with 20 home runs in 140 games last season, had to pay $ 5,555,556 for the prorated portion of his $ 15 million salary, part of a five-year, $ 70 million contract. He is owed $ 8 million next year, and his agreement includes a $ 15 million equipment option by 2022 with a purchase of $ 2 million.
The exclusion this summer does not affect his status in 2021 or his relationship with Bridich.
"Ian is extremely attentive in what he does, he is thoughtful about how he prepares himself as a professional athlete, he is thought of as a husband and father … he is thoughtful about things that are bigger than him," Bridich said. "And up to this point, the reference has been the team or the clubhouse or the locker room, or things that affect the organization, their charity work, passion projects outside of the baseball game.
"He is willing to spend a lot of time and energy and think about all the things he does. And so, when you have someone like that, who is a professional athlete who is in the middle of every day and who tries to do the best he can To keep his end of the bargain as an athlete, teammate, performer and then always ready to think of other people on the team, in the organization and outside the organization, it's easy to attract people like that. ”
Desmond complained about the lack of diversity in baseball and criticized the clubhouse environment, saying it includes racism, sexism and homophobia. Bridich said Desmond did not specifically complain about the Rockies clubhouse, but Bridich acknowledged that the organization could be more diverse.
In his Instagram post, Desmond said that he has been sharing more of his thoughts and experiences as a biracial man since Floyd's death on May 25. Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died after a white police officer held his knee to Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes.
Desmond said his mind started racing during a recent visit to Sarasota baseball fields where he played as a child. He wrote how they looked sloppy and sloppy, and how important youth baseball was to him as a boy.
Desmond said he wants to help Sarasota Youth Baseball get back on track.
It's a big loss for Colorado, which put Desmond on the restricted list on Tuesday and agreed to a minor league deal with Matt Kemp. The veteran slugger has a .327 batting average with 21 home runs and 77 RBIs in 86 career games at the downtown Denver baseball stadium.
"Yes, we are aware of the damage it has done against us," said Bridich.
Kemp, expected in Denver on Thursday, will have to earn his place on the list, and will benefit from the National League using the designated hitter when professional baseball tries to start the coronavirus-delayed season in late July.
"DH is an obvious benefit in terms of its potential place on our major league roster," said Bridich. "That was going to be the case whether Ian chose or not, and again, it's a right-handed power bat." You have an idea of the strike zone, have we seen it for how many years? And he is highly motivated to return to the field and continue his career and play well. Whether it's in the garden or just at DH, we have to let a few weeks pass before we can make a decision like that. "