When Yoenis Cespedes does something, he does it BIG. August 2nd, 2020, Yoenis Cespedes went missing. Mets beat writer Anthony DiComo reported that Cespedes did not show up to the ballpark at around 5 pm that Sunday. He said that the Mets tried to contact him but were unsuccessful. In the next hour, Twitter blew up. Everyone was concerned about the safety of Cespedes. Even Art Shamsky tweeted that he was praying he was okay.
Later on, Brodie Van Wagenen (BVW) stated that Cespedes’ new agent, Kyle Thousand, contacted Cespedes’ old agent (Brodie Van Wagenen) during the middle of the Met game to tell him that Cespedes was opting out. A shock to the system! Or was it?
Brandon Nimmo offered a different timeline. Nimmo said that Cespedes’ new agent had told the Mets that Cespedes was opting out before Sunday’s game. Not a good look for BVW and the Mets if this is true. But the question still looms: Why would he opt out 10 games into the season?
The Mets were not exactly off to a bright start and had just lost their 5th game in a row. Cespedes (like the Mets) was performing poorly apart from his Opening Day performance. Cespedes or “La Potencia” was slashing a meager .161/.235/.387 in his 31 at-bats. This is a small sample size I know, but apart from his 2 home runs he looked lost at the plate. He, as always, was dealing with some injuries and was being used mostly as a DH.
Don’t Be Suspicious, Don’t Be Suspicious
On top of this, Cespedes’ $6 million a year contract (which was restructured down from $29.5 million after his injury) is due to expire at the end of the season. Also, both Luis Rojas and BVW stated they were surprised and that they did not know he had any concerns about COVID-19 prior to the opt-out. Rojas had also told Cespedes that he would be left out of the lineup that Sunday after he went 0-4 with 2 strikeouts the previous day.
There are also pictures of Cespedes salsa dancing weeks before opting out. Someone who is being cautious and has an at-risk family member probably would not go out dancing during a pandemic. He has declined to speak to the media this year so we have not been able to gather further information about his opt-out. Could the 34-year-old be trying to hide from the league that he is past it? Could he just want to hide another injury so other teams won’t avoid signing him for big money?
A Change of Heart?
Someone’s mindset can change over time. We are all human and not perfect. Cespedes might have realized in those couple of weeks how bad this virus really is and how easily it spreads. Things did change since the beginning of the season/ when he went salsa dancing. Mets divisional rival, the Miami Marlins, at the time of his opt-out, just had more than half their roster test positive for COVID. Sometimes people do not see the danger of a situation until it gets very close to them.
What About Stroman?
One could make the same assumptions about Stroman who opted out 2 days ago. Cespedes’ teammate, Marcus Stroman, also decided to opt-out mid-season with his contract worth $12 million due to expire. However, Stroman was injured and had not played a game this season yet. Stroman is also 5 and a half years younger than Cespedes and performed reasonably well for the Mets last season with an ERA of 3.77 in 59.2 innings pitched.
Stroman also explained to everyone during a video press conference why he opted out which seemed very genuine in my opinion. He stated his grandma, his uncle, and his mom are all high risk and that this was a family decision. Since Cespedes’ opt-out, the Cardinals also had a COVID breakout. Also, the Mets were/are just about to travel to Miami, Florida and play the Marlins. Miami still has a high number of COVID cases (6,011 cases on August 11th). Luis Rojas was again surprised when Stroman opted out just before he was due to make his return.
COVID-19 is a very serious illness that spreads rapidly and the MLB has not handled this situation well at all. It is perfectly reasonable to opt-out especially if you have an at-risk family member. However, the timing of Cespedes’ opt-out is a little suspicious especially when you consider the fact that Luis Rojas and BVW did not know of any previous concerns before the season started. At the end of the day who I am to know their true intentions behind opting out especially when multiple teams have had bad COVID breakouts.
You be the judge. Are you buying their reasons for opting out?
For more baseball content click here