With LA's support, Price will not play in 2020

July 4th, 2020

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers starting pitcher has decided not to play this season due to risks presented by the coronavirus pandemic, citing "the best interest of my health and my family’s health.”

Price, 34, tweeted his decision Saturday.

"After considerable thought and discussion with my family and the Dodgers, I have decided it is in the best interest of my health and my family's health for me to not play this season," Price's statement read. "I will miss my teammates and will be cheering for them throughout the season and on to a World Series victory. I'm sorry I won't be playing for you this year, but look forward to representing you next year.

"Stay safe, be well, and be kind. And Go Dodgers!"

The Dodgers shared their support for Price in a statement shortly after his announcement.

"The Dodgers fully support David’s decision to sit out the 2020 season," the club's statement read. "We have been in constant contact with David and we understand how much this deliberation weighed on him and his family. We know he’ll be rooting hard for the club every day and look forward to having him back with us in 2021."

Price had been penciled in as the third starter in a loaded rotation, behind Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, ahead of Julio Urías and Alex Wood.

President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said it’s not clear who would replace Price in the Dodgers' rotation. Swingman Ross Stripling, a former All-Star as a starter, has been stretched out in Dodger Stadium workouts, and Friedman called him “very capable of being a very good starting pitcher in the big leagues.” Young pitchers Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin could also be in the mix.

Friedman said Price had communicated his concerns to the club for a few months but was ready to play when he reported on Wednesday. By Saturday, he changed his mind.

“My role in this has been to support him through it, not having any rooting interest in what is a very personal decision,” Friedman said. “Everyone is internalizing everything going on differently. I don’t know if there are any right or wrong answers at this point. It’s been on his mind for a while now. The allure of playing with his teammates that he bonded with was pushing him, but ultimately he got to the point where he wasn’t comfortable doing it.”

Friedman said whether Price is considered to have “opted out” or “elected not to play” will be determined by MLB and the MLB Players Association. If it’s the former, requiring being considered “high risk,” Price would be paid and receive service time. Otherwise, he would not. Price had a full-season salary of $32 million, with the Dodgers obligated to pay half on a pro-rated basis over 60 games (the Red Sox are paying the other half of Price's salary this year). He is signed through 2022.

Price is the first Dodgers player to announce that he intends to skip the 2020 season because of COVID-19. Roberts has said there is a group of players who had not reported to Summer Camp but did not include why they are absent or who they are. Friedman said he wasn’t aware of any other player who might not play, but he tempered that by noting the situation is fluid.

"Every player has the right to look at the situation individually and with regards to their families,” Roberts said on Friday. “If anyone chooses to go that route, I know that myself and the organization, their teammates will support them."

The Dodgers acquired the former American League Cy Young winner, including half of his remaining salary, and Betts from the Red Sox on Feb. 10 for outfielder Alex Verdugo (ranked as L.A.’s top prospect and MLB's No. 35 entering last season), shortstop Jeter Downs (their third-highest-ranked prospect on the 2020 Top 100 list, at No. 44) and catcher Connor Wong (No. 28 on the Dodgers' 2019 year-end list).

Price was viewed as a rotation replacement for lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, who left as a free agent and signed a four-year, $80 million deal with Toronto. The Dodgers also traded away veteran starter Kenta Maeda.

Price, who played for Friedman with Tampa Bay, was 7-5 with a 4.28 ERA last year, when he was limited to 22 starts because of a cyst on his left wrist that required surgery.

He displayed no lingering effects in two Spring Training starts, when he struck out 10 in 4 1/3 innings.