Will we see Cubs players follow Mike Leake’s lead and opt out of playing?

Mike Leake informed his team he won’t play in 2020. Will any Cubs follow suit?

On Monday, Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Mike Leake informed the club he will not be playing this season due to the risks associated with COVID-19. In doing so, he became the first MLB player to publicly state his plan to sit out the shortened 2020 campaign.

Leake, 32, is in the final year of a five-year, $80 million he inked with St. Louis. He was set to make roughly $5.5 million in prorated salary this season – and whether or not he’ll receive any of that money remains to be seen.

“During this global pandemic, Mike and his family had many discussions about playing this season. 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.”

If Leake is or was designated as a high-risk individual, he’d still get his prorated salary. However, if that’s not the case, the former first-rounder will forfeit his paycheck for the 2020 season. Bringing things full-circle, it’s worth asking ourselves if the Cubs will have any players take the same route, placing physical safety for themselves and their over financial considerations.

We’ve all heard about Anthony Rizzo and Jon Lester’s battles with cancer early in their careers. They both bested the disease and have gone on to pretty remarkable careers in their own right. But every team – Chicago included – undoubtedly has guys who have underlying health issues that, in a normal world, are of little concern. Today, though, with the risks associated with the coronavirus, how those issues are viewed may be wildly different. 

As teams report for ‘Summer Camp’ this week, baseball fans everywhere are rejoicing at the prospect of seeing their club take the field in a few short weeks. But the news regarding Leake and his decision makes it perfectly clear – this season isn’t just a shortened version of what we all know and love. There’s a very real threat that COVID-19 could derail this whole thing before it even pulls out of the station.

Next: Cubs announce their 50-man Summer Camp roster

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So whether we’re talking about Leake or a Cubs player who may decide to sit out the 2020 campaign, I think we as fans can all take a step back from our fandom, appreciate the gravity of the situation and the risks involved and show these individuals some respect for their choice.

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