Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has opted out of the rest of the 2020 Major League Baseball season, Brodie Van Wagenen, the team’s general manager, announced Sunday afternoon. Van Wagenen said Cespedes was opting out for “Covid-related” reasons.
The announcement came after Cespedes had failed to show up on Sunday for the Mets’ game in Atlanta against the Braves. The team said in a statement before the game that their attempt to contact Cespedes had been unsuccessful.
Van Wagenen described Cespedes’s decision as “a surprise.” When Cespedes failed to show up to the ballpark, the team sent security to his hotel room in Atlanta, but he was not there, Van Wagenen said. He indicated the team was still unsure where Cespedes was.
“I’m not sure of his travel at this point,” Van Wagenen said.
For the majority of the last two seasons, the Mets have missed the power hitting of Cespedes, their highly paid outfielder. The list of reasons for his absences ranged from undergoing surgery on both heels during one off-season to injuring his right ankle during a fall at his Florida ranch during his rehabilitation.
Cespedes, 34, made an immediate impact this season as the designated hitter in the season opener when he stroked a home run to propel the Mets over the Braves, 1-0. It was his first home run since his previous major league game, on July 20, 2018.
But he has struggled since, posting a batting average of .161 through eight games. On Saturday, he struck out twice and was 0 for 4 as the Mets lost, 7-1.
On Sunday, the Mets (3-7) lost to the Braves, 4-0, extending their losing streak to five games.
The Mets acquired Cespedes from the Tigers just before the trade deadline in 2015 and rode his bat to the World Series. That off-season, he signed a three-year contract worth $75 million to remain a Met. He exercised his opt-out clause the next winter after hitting 31 home runs and 86 R.B.I.
Cespedes was viewed at the perfect complement to Pete Alonso, the reigning rookie of the year in the National League, as well as Jeff McNeil, a utility fielder who emerged as the team’s most consistent hitter last season during Cespedes’s absence.
Earlier Sunday, the Mets traded the right-hander Jordan Humphreys to the Giants for Billy Hamilton, a defensive-minded outfielder.