Report: Nationals Star Juan Soto Will Miss The Opener After A Positive COVID-19 Test

The MLB season will begin tonight with a pair of games, as the Nationals host the Yankees and the Dodgers host the Giants for the start of the shortened season. Unlike the NBA, MLS, WNBA, NHL, and NWSL, baseball is going to try and make a season happen with teams playing in their home ballparks — aside from the Blue Jays as the Canadian government wisely will not bend their quarantine rules for MLB clubs coming into the country.

So far, we’ve seen how the bubble system can work, as the NWSL tournament has gone smoothly in Utah, and after a rocky start, the MLS tournament has been smooth sailing since. The NBA’s bubble appears to be locked in after a week without positive tests, and there’s optimism those leagues will be able to get their seasons done. MLB’s plan has the most holes in it, simply because players aren’t staying in a controlled environment, and on Thursday, we saw how that could derail things.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan (and confirmed by Washington Post beat writer Jesse Dougherty), Nationals star outfielder Juan Soto will miss the opener against the Yankees after testing positive for COVID-19.

Soto had already done a two-week quarantine after coming in contact with someone that had tested positive earlier in July, but at some point in recently he apparently contracted the virus. It’s a big blow to the Nationals, but it also is cause for serious concern on a larger scale for how MLB is going to proceed. It is an indicator of how, without players being in a bubble environment, their day-to-day interactions (even if limited) can lead to cases and potential spread. The good news is that, per the Nationals, after contact tracing no other players are being held out despite Soto’s test being from two days prior.

Hopefully Soto’s case will be an isolated incident and he’ll be able to make a full and speedy recovery, but Major League Baseball will now be holding their collective breath that more cases don’t pop up.