The New York Mets have responded to outfielder Yoenis Céspedes opting out of the 2020 season after he failed to show up for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Braves. While the team said it respects his decision to make this decision, they were caught off-guard by how he did so. The Mets referred to his sudden disappearance without explanation as "surprising."
"We support everybody's, and every player's, right to make this type of decision," general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. "This is a challenging time for everyone. And so we will support him in that decision. It was surprising, without question. At the same point, we have to go forward, and we have to not allow anything to keep us from going forward and attempting to win every game, and not having distractions from it."
The Mets stunned MLB fans on Sunday afternoon by releasing a statement and saying that Cespedes had not reported at the ballpark for the game. The team continued to explain that it had tried to contact the 34-year-old through "every channel available" but found no success. Ultimately, Cespedes' agent informed the team midway through the game that the outfielder was opting out.
Manager Luis Rojas also weighed in on Cespedes and the unique situation that took place on Sunday. Rojas noted that he had chatted with Cespedes on Saturday about his role on the team, as well as having a possible day off. However, the two did not speak after Saturday's loss to the Braves and the outfielder stopped returning Rojas' texts.
"These are very tough times," Rojas said. "Céspedes' personality, which we all know here, he's a guy that's very quiet. He's very to himself, but everyone gets along with him very well. They know the kinds of conversations they can have with him, and how to interact with him as well. We respect the fact of him making this decision, even if it's this way."
Cespedes' pro-rated base salary was worth about $4.07 million over a 60-game season, per MLB, but he will forgo the rest of the money. He was finishing up a four-year, $110 million contract with the Mets and was set to be a free agent. Now the expectation is that he will not remain with the team. However, Van Wagenen said that there is optimism for Cespedes' return.
"Yo's a great player that I think everyone enjoyed watching play when he was at his best," Van Wagenen said. "There was optimism for his return. I know how hard he worked in his rehab to get back to this point, and I know this is a disappointing end to at least his four-year agreement with the Mets. But I know it wasn't for a lack of work ethic on his part to try to get back."