Opinion | Handling of Mets' Yoenis Cespedes exit was bungled by everyone | amNewYork

Opinion | Handling of Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes exit was bungled by everyone

Yoenis Cespedes. (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

If the New York Mets are one thing, it’s consistently unpredictable, which provides an all-too-familiar feeling of dread amongst its fan base even during the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak.

So for that, I suppose we should be thankful.

Just 10 games into their 2020 season and the Mets have already experienced the full spectrum of what makes them one of the most frustrating franchises in professional sports to follow.

On the field, their season is already unwinding after a lengthy losing streak that is only magnified in MLB’s 60-game season. With it has come the usual fashions of heartbreak — blown saves, bullpen implosions, and lately, an inability to get some kind of base hit with runners in scoring position.

Following Sunday’s 4-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves in which they left a whopping 13 runners on-base while going 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position, the Mets’ on-field ineptitude quickly faded away.

Yoenis Cespedes was gone. First perceived to be missing following a cryptic and worrisome statement by Mets management during the game only to be followed up by general manager Brodie Van Wagenen confirming that the team’s slugger opted out for the remainder of the 2020 season citing COVID-19 concerns.

And with the dust having settled, both sides come out looking like petulant children.

For Cespedes, his actions were those of an immature ballplayer who didn’t have the gall to properly tell his coach, his teammates, and his general manager that he was opting out for the year. He had his agent text the team while he packed up his hotel room in Atlanta and disappeared.

It’s a move filled with cowardice, overshadowing a decision that — if it really was because of coronavirus worries — is understandable and supported by many. Several big names have already opted out this season with no backlash of any sorts.

His immediate decision was met by members of the media speculating that he was unhappy with his playing time that could have damaged his chances of receiving an extra $740,000 in bonuses.

But why would he forego that bonus when he still was set to earn a guaranteed $3.5 million prorated salary and possibly, still, $6.67 million in other incentives?

It’s an irresponsible narrative peddled by the New York media, especially when Cespedes has a family member with pre-existing medical conditions and then viewed an outbreak in the Miami Marlins’ clubhouse just last week.

While Van Wagenen made it clear during his postgame press conference on Sunday that he supported Cespedes’ decision — and that there was no hidden agenda to smear the player’s reputation — his actions don’t necessarily suggest that.

Releasing a statement saying that the team doesn’t know where their player is and that they can’t contact him obviously created initial concern for his safety. But then the team leaked that his well-being wasn’t in danger an hour later to ease those worries, thus creating the narrative that Cespedes was abandoning his teammates.

They could very well be right depending on what side of the aisle you sit on the coronavirus issue, but they went about it incredibly incorrectly.

Rather than alerting the media of Cespedes’ absence, which likely would not have been noticed after manager Luis Rojas told us before the game that he was giving the slugger the day off, the Mets simply could have saved the announcement until after the game and wished him the best.

Instead, a hastily put-together statement sparked an inferno of incompetence — from all sides — leaving the Mets with their latest tale of humiliation.

More from around NYC