As we are now just days away from the first pitch of the major-league season, which comes on Thursday with the Yankees and Nationals kicking things off, there have been a handful of players who have decided to opt out of this 2020 season for one reason or another. Up until Sunday, though, the Red Sox hadn’t had any of their players decide not to play. That changed late this afternoon when one of their more recent additions decided he was going to sit out this shortened season. That would be Collin McHugh.
Collin McHugh has opted out of the season.— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) July 19, 2020
McHugh had been battling arm injuries since last season and before the season was cancelled he was expected to spend at least the first month and likely a bit more on the IL. During the hiatus, though, it appears things didn’t get much better and he was still going to have to start this season on the IL. With apparently few signs of his arm starting to bounce back, McHugh decided rather than try and get ready for the stretch run with no guarantees he would spend this strange time with his family.
Collin McHugh has opted out. According to Ron Roenicke, McHugh was likely to spend time on the I.L. anyway -- his arm wasn't bouncing back from his elbow injury -- and that being the case, McHugh felt it was better to be with his family.— Chad Jennings (@chadjennings22) July 19, 2020
First of all, it goes without saying that I cannot fault any player who does not want to play this season. Things have obviously been made easier for McHugh, as he wasn’t even sure if he would pitch this year never mind when. Adding that factor to the simple fact that it is scary to play in a pandemic, all the power to McHugh and his family to decide on making this decision.
As for how this affects the Red Sox, it is obviously a blow. Boston signed McHugh back in March shortly before the pandemic put the season on hold. Clearly the Red Sox rotation needs all the help it can get, and the hope was that McHugh would be the low-cost signing that could provide real upside, whether that be as a traditional starter or even as a bulk arm after an opener. Boston did recently make another addition in Zack Godley, but losing anyone from this ragtag group of starters is rough. Losing someone with a track record like McHugh’s hurt that much more.
But, that’s the way things go this year and as I said there is nothing but respect for his decision from us here. McHugh never actually got to pitch a game with the Red Sox, but he is still part of the family, which his wife Ashley acknowledged on Twitter today as well. Perhaps that could point to a potential reunion for next season, but we’ll cross that bridge when it comes. For now, we wish McHugh the best of luck in his recovery and the Red Sox the best of luck in patching together whatever it is you want to call this rotation.
I know our time with the sox seems nonexistent, but we’ve been honored to work with them since march. from chaim to the staff + trainers (who collin loved) we felt at home so quickly. no criticisms of them, 2020 is just a super shitty year for us.— ashley buzzy mchugh (@arbuzzy) July 19, 2020
As Alex Speier pointed out on Twitter, with the way salaries were advanced to players this year McHugh had already made his yearly salary and only had incentives to play for. That likely plays into the decision-making process as well.