Yoenis Cespedes will spend the entire 2019 season on the injured list. Will he return to action for the New York Mets in 2020 or have we seen the last of him?
Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was supposed to become one of the faces of the New York Mets after they acquired him from the Detroit Tigers in 2015. He appeared to be a true five-tool player with a great deal of power, which earned him the nickname “La Potencia”, or “the power”.
The Mets simply could not afford to lose him in free agency, especially to their division rivals (the Washington Nationals). In order to lock him in, they signed him to a three-year deal, after which he opted out and re-signed with the team to a four-year, $110 million contract that will run through the 2020 season.
What has been the most notable part of Cespedes’ time in Flushing? The fact that he has been sidelined for almost half of the games the Mets have played since he joined the team.
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The serious issues really began in 2016. That was a great season for Cespedes who slashed .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs and 86 RBIs. Even though he helped lead the team to the postseason, he did spend time on the then-DL in July and August with a strained quad.
He developed a new workout routine during that offseason but still missed six weeks early the next season with a hamstring injury. Upon returning to the team, he quickly developed another hamstring injury a few weeks later, causing him to miss the remainder of the 2017 season.
Last season, Cespedes landed on the DL in mid-May and conflicting reports about the source of the pain began to swirl. He came back for a game and was shut down again because he could not run without pain. It was then announced that he would undergo season-ending surgery on both heels.
Even though no timetable was set for a 2019 return, Cespedes seemed to be making progress and it seemed more and more likely that he would return to the team at some point this year. However, all hopes disappeared when he experienced a “violent fall” at his Port St. Lucie ranch that resulted in him fracturing his ankle and undergoing season-ending injury.
Cespedes hopes to be ready by the 2020 season but now that he has gone down for what seems to be the millionth time, is it realistic to believe that he will ever play as a Met again?
If the Mets have given up and want to be rid of Cespedes, they have three options (all of which are being discussed):
1. Void his contract: If the organization concludes that he took part in behavior that violated his contract, they can pay a part of his salary and be done with him. However, this might be awkward for General Manager Brodie van Wagenen who was Cespedes’ agent when the four-year contract was negotiated, especially if he still gets a commission from it.
2. Suspension without pay: The Mets can also do this if they conclude his behavior on the ranch violated his contract.
3. Successful buyout: If the Mets can come to terms with Cespedes, they can negotiate a buyout and not have to worry about him anymore.
We have reached a point where relying on Cespedes to come back and produce is irrational, and voiding his contract or suspending him without pay appears to be the best options. This contract will go down as one of the worst in the history of the organization and maybe in all of sports.
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It is a shame that a player with such talent and potential could not stay healthy, and we must hope that the Mets learn from this mistake.