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San Francisco Giants star Buster Posey announced Friday that he is opting out of the 2020 MLB season amid the coronavirus pandemic. He told reporters on a Zoom call that, earlier this week, twin girls that he and his wife are adopting were born prematurely and they will need to be in the NICU.
Posey said that he and his wife have been trying to adopt for several years now and were matched with the birth mother a couple months ago. They kept their plans relatively secret after experiencing how unpredictable and heartbreaking the process can be. Once, Posey said, they were given a baby for a few days before the birth family changed their mind.
Out of “cautious” optimism and desire to protect the privacy of all involved, Posey hadn’t talked much even among his team about the plans to add to his family — until the babies were born at 32 weeks on the day of the Giants’ first practice.
After consulting with his family and doctors, he is sitting out the 2020 season, becoming the most decorated player to make that decision. A former MVP, six-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion, the 33-year-old is the face of a Giants team currently in a rebuilding phase.
“I completely understand that not playing baseball doesn't wholly eliminate the risk of contracting the virus,” Posey said. “But I do think it eliminates it to a certain degree. One that makes myself and my wife feel more comfortable than we would otherwise.
“It came down to unknowns. Talking to different doctors, there’s no solid answers. If the babies contract the virus, will it affect them immediately, will it affect them in the long-term? Unfortunately, there’s just no data right now; this is so new that we just don't have those answers.”
He thanked Giants executive Farhan Zaidi and manager Gabe Kapler for their unmitigated support in stepping away from the team to be with his family, although he said that he would have made the same choice even without the team’s backing.
“This ultimately wasn't that difficult decision for me,” Posey said. “From a baseball standpoint, it was a tough decision. From a family standpoint, and feeling like I’m making a decision to protect our children, I think it was relatively easy.”
For Posey, at least, choosing to sit out the season hinged specifically on the arrival of his twins. He acknowledged that it’s “100 percent an individual decision” and said that, “If these babies hadn’t been born right now and weren’t premature, I’d probably be playing.”
Because he is not high-risk himself, Posey is not guaranteed to receive his salary, which would have been prorated to $7.925 million for the shortened season.
Posey deferred to his manager and GM about how involved he’ll be with the team from afar as the season gets underway, particularly in a mentorship role to catcher Joey Bart, the second overall pick in the 2018 draft who could be thrust into a major-league role after finishing last season at Double-A.
With last season’s backup catcher, Aramis Garcia, currently sidelined by hip surgery, the Giants will have no available catchers technically on the 40-man roster, and will need to add at least two of Bart and fellow player pool catchers Tyler Heineman and Rob Brantly to begin the season, baring an outside addition.
“As accommodating as Buster is we want to be careful to not take up too much of his time, especially you know in the next few weeks,” Zaidi said, but mentioned that they would value his personnel insights.
“I mean, I think we want him as involved in, and as engaged as his schedule and his situation allows,” he said.
Kapler, who came over to the Giants this offseason after being fired by the Philadelphia Phillies, echoed that sentiment.
“I'm pretty confident based on my conversations with Buster that he will be willing and actually excited about participating and helping,” Kapler said. “And while I definitely will look forward to working with him in 2021, I also feel confident that we'll be working with him in 2020.”
Posey and his wife, Kristen, have two older children in addition to the newly adopted girls.
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