When negotiating the terms of the 2020 shortened season, MLB and the union agreed on the fact that a ballplayer could opt out of playing because of concerns or fears of COVID-19. Numerous players elected this route, most notably David Price, Mike Leake, Michael Kopech, Marcus Stroman and others. Joining the group is controversial New York Mets‘ outfielder/designated hitter Yoenis Cespedes.
It has been over a month since Cespedes failed to report to a New York Mets’ game, presumably without letting anybody of the team know about his decision to opt out of the season.
But was it only related to COVID-19? Or is the issue a lot deeper? SNY’s Andy Martino investigated and reached some conclusions about the matter.
First off, Cespedes was presumably upset with the Mets ever since they worked to restructure his deal following the ankle fracture that the infamous boar incident produced. He was forced to accept a deep paycut, with some money available through bonuses.
“Paranoid” about the Mets’ actions and intentions
One of those bonuses, a $5 million one for making the opening day roster, was met. But after not seeing his name in the lineup for the fourth game of the season, the Mets’ slugger reportedly was “paranoid” over the fact that the team could be intentionally limiting his playing time so he wouldn’t hit the incentives of his re-worked pact.
According to Martino, Cespedes also wasn’t happy about playing in the DH role. He said playing the outfield helped him feel “engaged” during games. Between the new position, the aforementioned grudges and his perception that the Mets wanted to manipulate his playing time to avoid paying him, the Cuban star decided to quit.
His decision was met with much criticism, but truth be told, he hasn’t been the reason behind the Mets’ inability to accumulate enough wins to contend in the NL East. His replacement, Dom Smith, received an extended opportunity and is now slashing .338/.399/.635 with eight homers and 40 RBI.