It’s tough to fault the New York Mets for giving Yoenis Cespedes a chance in 2020, but this was never going to work out.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with opting-out during this unprecedented season, but there is a right way to make that decision. Unless there are some behind-the-scenes details that we don’t know about, this was 100% the wrong way to handle things. It’s completely unprofessional on his part and this won’t play well when he’s looking for his next job.
One Mets player told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that Cespedes was “disgruntled” this year. That doesn’t paint the full picture of what happened, but what could he have been “disgruntled” about? The team’s slow start?
He played his part in the futility that is the 2020 Mets. He finishes his season with five hits, two home runs, four RBIs, three runs, and a slash line of .161/.235/.387. Despite these weak numbers, he was still playing every day and batting in the middle of the order. Again, why was he “disgruntled?”
Yoenis Cespedes Is Toast
All speculation aside, the 2020 Yoenis Cespedes experiment was always doomed to fail. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20 and the Mets weren’t wrong to give him a chance, but having any kind of expectations for Cespedes was hopeful, at best.
It made sense to give Cespedes a chance to prove himself in 2020, especially on that restructured, incentive-laden deal. Love him or hate him, he was chock full of talent. Prior to this year, he always hit when he was in a Mets uniform. Sure, he was almost never on the field once he signed that four-year, $110 million contract, but when he was, he raked.
In 316 games over the course of six years and five seasons with the Mets, he mashed 76 home runs, drove in 205 RBIs, and put together a slash line of .279/.344/.539. Those numbers are no joke.
The coronavirus delay could have been a blessing in disguise for the Cuban outfielder. With the DH (finally) coming to the National League, he wouldn’t have to play the field and the shortened season would also mean his body wouldn’t have to hold up through the grind of a 162-game season.
The problem with the 2020 version of Yoenis Cespedes is that it’s almost impossible to recapture the magic after missing almost two full seasons of action. Add in the fact that Yo is only a few months away from turning 35 and it’s pretty clear that he’s over the hill. He’s cooked, toast, done, or whatever other adjectives you want to use to describe it.
Through eight games, that was glaringly obvious. Following his unceremonious departure, it’s hard to see him ever playing again in MLB. All it takes is one team to sign him, but who in their right mind would want to give an injury-prone, over-the-hill problem child like Cespedes that chance?
The Mets did in 2020, but they didn’t have much to lose. No one else should.