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Zimmerman, Ross elect not to play in 2020

@jessicacamerato
June 29, 2020

For the first time in team history, the upcoming Nationals season will not include Ryan Zimmerman. The veteran infielder and right-hander Joe Ross elected not to play in the 2020 season. Zimmerman, 35, clarified in a statement Monday that this does not mark the end of his 15-year Major League

For the first time in team history, the upcoming Nationals season will not include Ryan Zimmerman. The veteran infielder and right-hander Joe Ross elected not to play in the 2020 season.

Zimmerman, 35, clarified in a statement Monday that this does not mark the end of his 15-year Major League career. He explained his family situation factored into his decision. Zimmerman has a high-risk mother and three children, including a newborn. Zimmerman, however, is not considered to be high risk himself, so he will not receive his salary or service time in 2020. The same goes for Ross.

Zimmerman was the Nationals’ first Draft pick in 2005 upon relocating to Washington, D.C. He is the team leader in games played, plate appearances, hits, home runs and RBIs, among other statistical categories. Zimmerman was expected to share first-base duties with Eric Thames and Howie Kendrick this season, and he also was a candidate for designated-hitter duties.

Ross was projected to earn the fifth-starter spot in his sixth season. After splitting the role with Erick Fedde and Austin Voth, Ross stood out in Spring Training by posting a 0.00 ERA in his first two outings. The 27-year-old memorably made a spot start on short notice in place of Max Scherzer in Game 5 of the World Series last year. Moving forward, the team could name Fedde or Voth the fifth starter, or it could go with a four-man rotation of Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and Aníbal Sánchez.

Nationals president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo backed both players, stating, "We are one-hundred percent supportive of their decision to not play this year."

Zimmerman and Ross were on the Nats’ 60-man player pool, which was announced on Sunday. The team can acquire players from other organizations, or it can add from within its own system. The Nats had gone heavy on pitching, with 36 arms on the 60-man list.

Jessica Camerato covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato, Facebook and Instagram.