In a statement released through his agency, Zimmerman says he made the decision due to concerns for his three young children and his mother, who has multiple sclerosis.
“To be clear, I am not retiring at this time,” Zimmerman, 35, said in his statement. “I have not decided on my future in baseball past 2020. But this year, I’ll be staying safe at home and pulling as hard as anyone for the guys to defend our championship.”
In a statement, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo confirmed Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross have both opted not to play this season.
“We are one hundred percent supportive of their decision not to play this year,” Rizzo said. “We will miss their presence in the clubhouse and their contributions on the field.”
Zimmerman, who has spent his entire 15-year career with the Nationals, hit .257/.321/.415 last season with six home runs and 27 RBIs in 52 games. He had 14 hits in 16 games during the Nationals’ World Series title run in the fall.
Ross, 27, made nine starts and appeared in 27 games for the Nationals in 2019, posting a 5.48 ERA with 57 strikeouts.
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake confirmed through his agent that he will also not be returning to play this season.
MLB players are required to report to their home cities for mandatory COVID-19 testing on July 1. A training camp with full baseball activities will begin July 3 and the 60-game season will begin on July 23 and 24.