Rockies GM supports Desmond's decision to skip '20 season

FILE - In this July 29, 2019, file photo, Colorado Rockies' Ian Desmond follows the flight of his triple off Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda in the second inning of a baseball game in Denver. Desmond plans to sit out this season to be with his family and help the youth baseball program in his hometown in Florida. The 34-year-old Desmond wrote on Instagram that the COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - In this July 29, 2019, file photo, Colorado Rockies' Ian Desmond follows the flight of his triple off Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda in the second inning of a baseball game in Denver. Desmond plans to sit out this season to be with his family and help the youth baseball program in his hometown in Florida. The 34-year-old Desmond wrote on Instagram that the COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DENVER – Colorado Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich says he supports Ian Desmond’s decision to sit out the 2020 season to focus on his young family and help rejuvenate youth baseball in his hometown in Florida.

Bridich says he had a pair of recent conversations with the 34-year-old outfielder who announced his decision in a lengthy and heartfelt Instagram post Monday night.

Desmond wrote that the “COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking.” The biracial slugger also mentioned a myriad of issues within baseball, including sexism, homophobia and socioeconomic concerns, as well as the racial reckoning that emerged after George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis sparked protests around the world.

“The conversations with Ian felt the exact same that his written words feel to me,” Bridich said, “which is from the heart and honest. ... I did not know that he was going to write something as thoughtful and as comprehensive as (he did) but I’m not surprised.”

Desmond, who hit .255 with 20 homers in 140 games last season, had been due $5,555,556 for the prorated share of his $15 million salary, part of a $70 million, five-year contract. He is owed $8 million next year, and his deal includes a $15 million team option for 2022 with a $2 million buyout.

Opting out this summer doesn’t affect his 2021 status, nor does it affect his relationship with Bridich.

“Ian is extremely thoughtful in what he does, he’s thoughtful in how he prepares as a professional athlete, he’s thoughtful as a husband and a father ... he’s thoughtful about things that are bigger than him,” Bridich said. “And to this point, the reference has been the team or the clubhouse or the locker room, or things that affect the organization, his charity work, passion projects of his outside of the game of baseball.

“He’s willing to devote a lot of time and energy and thought to all of the things that he does. And so when you have somebody like that who is a professional athlete who is in the thick of it every day and trying to do the very best that he can to hold up his end of the bargain as an athlete, a teammate, a performer and then he’s always willing to think about other people on the team, in the organization and outside the organization, it’s easy to gravitate to people like that.”