On the eve of Opening Day, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo announced to reporters that his club had a positive Covid-19 test that will impact the Opening Day roster (Twitter links via MASNsports.com’s Mark Zuckerman). One player tested positive, per Rizzo, but another four players and one staffer were deemed to close contacts in need of quarantine. Rizzo made clear that the Nationals plan to play tomorrow night.
All five players — who have yet to be named — will be inactive for Opening Day. The positive test was performed on March 29, and the Nats learned of the result this morning. The positive player and the five close-contact individuals were all on a charter flight together this week, thus necessitating the quarantine.
Under this year’s updated health-and-safety guidelines, which were agreed upon by MLB and the Players Association back in early February, players who test positive “will be required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days, receive appropriate care and monitoring from the Club medical staff, and be cleared by the Joint Committee and the individual’s team physician, following a mandatory cardiac evaluation and a determination that the individual no longer presents a risk of infection to others.”
Under those same guidelines, individuals who have been identified as being in close contact with a confirmed positive “will be subject to a mandatory quarantine of seven days and must test negative on day 5 or later among other requirements to rejoin Club facilities.”
It’s not year clear at this time which players are impacted by the positive test, but Rizzo acknowledged that the Nationals will “certainly” have to make some roster moves prior to tomorrow’s game (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli).
Players can be placed on the Covid-19 related injured list with no minimum time required, and those on the Covid-19 list do not count against a team’s 40-man roster. Replacement players can also be temporarily added to the Major League Active List, “without the need for those players to be placed on waivers, outrighted or optioned in order to be removed from the 40-man roster when players return from the Covid-19 Related Injured List,” per MLB’s updated 2021 protocols.