Mets: Take the cue from the Yankees and release Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes - injured and out for a year and a half (Photo: yahoosports.com)
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By nature, the Mets tend to stay away from any association with the Yankees. But in this case, they should follow their rival’s lead…

The Mets have a situation with Yoenis Cespedes that is remarkably similar to the one the Yankees faced with Jacoby Ellsbury – a player who makes a ton of money but rarely plays.

The Yankees took a bold and potentially costly step by releasing Ellsbury this week. The team rebounded by filing a grievance against Ellsbury for breach of contract relating to his activities during the rehab phase of his injuries.

Jacoby Ellsbury - Exiled by the Yankees (Photo: Pinstripe Alley)
Jacoby Ellsbury – Exiled by the Yankees (Photo: Pinstripe Alley)

A counter-grievance is sure to be filed by the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), and things will get testy as the Yankees seek to nullify Ellsbury’s guaranteed contract with $26 million outstanding.

Mets and Yankees – together??

A dual-edged swipe by two different teams, if the Mets were to follow suit by releasing Cespedes with similar claims, changes the game dramatically.

In theory, a win for the Mets and Yankees would set the stage for teams like the Los Angeles Angels to release Albert Pujols as he gets closer to age 41 when he is scheduled to earn $30,000,000, assuming he can walk to his position at first base.

Guaranteed contracts are not a problem. It’s the length of these and other agreements that grates against common sense and what’s right for the game of baseball.

A deal is finalized... (Photo: bleedcubbieblue.com)
A deal is finalized… (Photo: bleedcubbieblue.com)

A caveat – and let’s get this out of the way now – is that players are not responsible for what has been given to them.

No one among us in our right mind would turn down four-years for $110 million – the contract the Mets offered to Yoenis Cespedes.

Ditto the contract, the Yankees generously gave Jacoby Ellsbury (7 years-$153 million) back in 2013.

But the pendulum has to swing back in favor of teams who do not receive what they paid for – and more significantly – when it appears the player in question is not following team guidelines and rules while rehabbing from injuries.

Ellsbury’s case of wrongdoing has been ongoing since 2017 and it is chronicled here.

Cespedes has never been a New York Met

Watch this video though as a reporter from Golf Digest tears into Yoenis Cespedes in April 2018 for using his beloved golf game to cure a horrendous slump he was mired in at the time.

The Mets and the back pages of New York media pounced all over Cespedes for his behavior at the time.

Only to later grasp on to a better story from Cespedes about falling into a hole (never fully explained) on his ranch – resulting in surgeries that removed him from the Mets lineup for the last year and a half.

More recently, a video (since taken down but available here) has Cespedes taking batting practice in an Instagram post put up by former teammate Endy Chavez.

Wait a minute. You mean a player can’t take batting practice during the offseason to improve himself? Like Gio Urshela did, to enable himself to hit .314 for the Yankees last year?

Yoenis Cespedes Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke
Mets enigma Yoenis Cespedes Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Answer – no – not when a player is under team supervision during the rehab process following an injury.

Here’s the legal mumbo-jumbo spelling out the issue from a portion of the agreement between owners and players which states:

“Any treatment a Player receives for a Work-Related Injury by a health care provider who is not affiliated with the Club must be authorized by the Club in advance of the treatment in accordance with Regulation 2 of the (Uniform Players Contract).”
The assumption being the team and not the player knows what’s best in terms of getting him back on the field promptly.

You can also throw in the baggage Cespedes carries unrelated to injuries, and being run out of town by the A’s, Red Sox, and Tigers before he landed in New York to (effectively) carry the Mets to the World Series in 2015 – before adding – what have you done for me lately?

We started with the premise that the Mets have a “thing” about the Yankees and vice-versa. Zack Wheeler, for instance, could be a Yankee today and Miguel Andujar (example only) a Met if only the two teams were willing to engage in discussion to make sensible trades.

Two peas – different pods – still have commonality

But this is a unique case where the Republicans and Democrats might find themselves in alignment with an issue affecting both teams.

The saga of Yoenis Cespedes is ongoing, and the Mets, unlike the Yankees with Ellsbury, are “covered” by an insurance policy that can pay up to 75% of his salary ($29.5 million) for 2020.

Even a fiscally conservative team like the Mets stand to benefit by taking a stand against a player like Cespedes, who seems to feel as though he is “self-employed” and not contractually or morally obligated to the New York Mets and their fans.

The Yankees and the Mets – in tandem – versus the might of the Player’s Association is capable of stemming the tide against guaranteed contracts that leave the home team helpless and in need of relief for past mistakes.

The ball’s in the Mets court. A two-team attack increases the odds of winning a battle worth fighting, and one that serves as a precedent to benefit baseball overall…

Updated with this comment from a reader 11/24/2019 5:10pm EST

“If we start breaking baseball contracts based on fine print interpretation this is all going to fall apart. Especially when the violation is a question involves a baseball player practicing. What if he was building a fence, or changing a tire, or hurt himself brushing his teeth.

Would rather see contracts that spell out reasonable penalties for violations, and they’d have to be enforced regardless of performance. Once we start looking for loopholes all trust will be lost. Clubs will start offering contracts chocked full of team exploitable loopholes.

Edit: or maybe don’t offer franchise crippling contracts. Start offering shorter performance-based contracts like Wainwright’s 2019 deal. Do well and you get handsomely rewarded. Fall apart and you still get many times most people’s salaries, but you’re probably done. Teams are gambling with these large contracts, and attempting to walk away from their losses.”

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Mets: Take the cue from the Yankees and release Yoenis Cespedes
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Mets: Take the cue from the Yankees and release Yoenis Cespedes
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By nature, the Mets tend to stay away from any association with the Yankees. But in this case, they should follow their rival's lead...
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Reflections On Baseball
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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.