What We Know:
- On Sunday, Cespedes did not show up to Truist Park in Atlanta for the team’s afternoon game against the Atlanta Braves. Mets manager Luis Rojas said he sent the outfielder a text message and later called him, but Cespedes did not reply. The Mets also shared that they sent a security detail to the team hotel, where they found that Cespedes and his belongings were gone.
- General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen released a statement soon after the first pitch that Cespedes had essentially gone AWOL. “As of game time, Yoenis Céspedes has not reported to the ballpark today. He did not reach out to management with any explanation for his absence. Our attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful.” The team later clarified that they did not believe his safety was at risk.
- Shortly after the Mets 4-0 loss, Van Wagenen announced that Cespedes had chosen to opt-out of the rest of the 2020 season for “COVID related reasons” and that the team had not previously known the possibility that he would opt-out. Van Wagenen did share that Cespedes was healthy.
“We support everybody and every player’s right to make this type of decision. This is a challenging time for everyone,” Van Wagenen said. “It was surprising, without question.” Rojas shared the same sentiment with reporters saying, “It went from a concerning pregame to finding out what happened and then obviously supporting his decision,” Rojas said.
- The team’s management faced some criticism on Sunday after they released the initial press release announcing they didn’t know where Cespedes was. The team issued the statement before anyone with the Mets could confirm the player’s safety leaving critics to call the move risky and unprofessional as they truly didn’t know if something more sinister has happened to the athlete.
So today’s fiasco seems to be either:
1. The Mets sent a statement designed to shame Yoenis Cespedes.
2. The Mets sent out a statement to say Yoenis Cespedes didn’t come to work — but without first determining his wellbeing.
A well-run organization would do neither.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) August 2, 2020
- Concerns about the coronavirus pandemic are growing in the MLB as teams like the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals fight outbreaks, forcing players to reconsider their plans to play a 60-game season. Cespedes became the 19th major league player to opt-out, according to Baseball America, although he was the first Mets player to do so.
- The news comes as a blow to the Mets team and their fans on a day that ended in their fifth consecutive loss, leaving the team with a 3-7 record. Cespedes, 34, had been expected to provide power to the Mets this season after he hit a home run in the teams’ season opener this year for a 1-0 win over the Braves. Cespedes missed the majority of the last two seasons due to a variety of injuries and this was his first home run since his previous major league game back in July 2018. Rojas does not believe that Cespedes’ decision will change how the players or coaches look at at the two-time All-Star athlete. “Everyone on this team looks up to Cespedes because of his ability to play the game and what he has done and the way he carries himself in the clubhouse,” Rojas said. “Everyone has a good relationship with him.”
- Earlier on Sunday, the Mets traded for the Giants’ Billy Hamilton, a defensive-minded outfielder. After the game, the team shared they are looking forward and ready to changes the season around.“As we pick up the pieces here now, it’s a matter of going forward,” Van Wagenen said.
Fans are worried that Saturday’s game may end up being Cespedes’s final one as a Met as his four-year contract expires after this season. Van Wagenen called Sunday’s development a “disappointing end” to Cespedes’ career with the Mets.