There’s a still-growing list of notable players that have decided to opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. That raises the question: what if any of these players, for whatever reason and at whatever point in time, changes his mind?
The general rule is that there’s no going back. Once a player opts out of the 2020 campaign, he’s ineligible to play in the regular or postseason. That player would then simply step back into the remainder of his contract situation (or enter free agency) at the conclusion of this season.
That said, there is a notable carve-out for those players that are deemed personally “high-risk” for coronavirus infection. Such players — who receive salary and service time even if they opt out — are permitted to submit a request to return. Per Stark, there’s some kind of process involving team physicians and a joint committee to determine whether to honor the request. (Precisely what steps are required and what factors are considered isn’t entirely clear.)
So, what of players not placed in the personal “high-risk” category? They’ve got to make an in-or-out choice, for the moment. But Stark notes that there has at least been some amount of chatter surrounding the idea of creating a path back to participation in 2020. Again, it’s not clear what that might entail — e.g., whether the player would need to demonstrate some change in circumstance to justify the change of heart.