The Yoenis Cespedes opt out move was certainly done in a peculiar manner, and it may come with a cost for next season too, according to one former Met.
“He may get blackballed next year and I’m OK with that,” former Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden said on the “Amazin’ But True” New York Post podcast. “Number one, you put yourself in that position by the stuff you’re doing off the field. Now you miss two, three years when they said throughout baseball don’t give this guy a contract and the Mets did it anyway, and that’s the way you show them. You owe those guys. You owe your teammates, bro. That was a weak move.”
The 34-year-old Cespedes decided to opt out on Aug. 2, but he did so in a manner of mass confusion.
Cespedes did not show up for the team’s game against the Braves in Atlanta that day, nor did he inform the team of his plans. When security was sent to his hotel room, they discovered he had already packed his belongings and left.
While there are some conflicting stories as to the timeline of events, the Mets say they were not informed of his decision to opt out until some point during their game as they sought to contact him.
Cespedes cited COVID concerns as his reason for opting out, but Gooden was not buying it.
“I can’t agree with him on this move at all,” he said. “That definitely wasn’t about COVID. I hope I’m wrong.”
Gooden was alluding to a New York Post report that Cespedes was unhappy with his playing time and believed the team was limiting his opportunities so they could avoid paying his performance bonuses in his contract.
Cespedes was in the final year of a four-year, $110 million deal – which current GM Brodie Van Wagenen actually negotiated as Cespedes’ lead agent – but his salary was cut to $6 million for the 2020 season after he injured himself on his ranch in an incident involving a wild boar.
That salary was pro-rated to $2.2 million for this year due to the 60-game season.
Cespedes played in just eight games this year and had not played since July of 2018 prior to that as he heads into free agency.
“You might get a team that will invite him to spring training,” Gooden said. “I don’t know. I’m not wishing bad on anybody, but that was just bad.”
Gooden also took issue with Marcus Stroman’s decision to opt out, as well.
Stroman, another free agent at the end of the year, got hurt before the start of the season and decided on Aug. 10 – after he accrued the six years of MLB service to qualify as a free agent – that he would opt out citing COVID concerns.
Gooden felt Stroman was not being truthful and thought it was to avoid getting injured heading into free agency.
“I understand if that’s the reason,” he said. “Be a man enough to say it, ‘I don’t want to take a chance/ I may only get five or six starts. So I don’t want to chance it. I want to get as strong as I can, get healthy and come back next year.’
“Say it. Nobody’s gonna shoot you. You good. But on’t give me that bulls—t about ‘I talked to my family and we’re doing what’s best.’ You’re bringing in the checks, you the man, it’s your call.”