Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen issued a vaguely worded statement in the early innings of the team’s game in Atlanta, igniting concern across the league. By the end of the game it was revealed Cespedes had opted out.
Citing coronavirus concerns, Cespedes’s agent informed the club they had lost a dangerous bat in their lineup. The opt-out ends a disappointing tenure in New York for Cespedes, who spent the majority of a four-year deal injured as the Mets failed to match their success in 2015.
It was an unusual way of handling business. Every other player to opt out gave notice, and none had completely ghosted their team. Still, Mets teammates were quick to defend Cespedes, as players across the league have shown full support for players choosing not to play for health reasons.
However, with hits hard to come by, a poor Mets record, and free agency awaiting, viral concerns may not be the only reason for Cespedes’ decision.
It’s an understatement to say that the Mets season had a poor start. Sitting at 3-7 after Sunday, it seemed like every game was missing pitching, hitting, defense, or a combination of the three.
With Pete Alonso in an awful slump, the bullpen erratic once more, and an inability to hit with runners in scoring position, bright spots in the roster quickly became hard to come by.
Among them was Jacob deGrom, who picked up right where he left off after consecutive Cy Young seasons. Following the departure of Cespedes and a fifth straight loss, deGrom took the mound, still searching for his first decision of the year.
Once again the Mets ace delivered, tearing through Atlanta’s lineup, striking out 10 and allowing just 2 runs.
For the first time in ages, the Mets lineup finally provided run support to match deGrom’s outing. After stringing together hits in the third, Michael Conforto drove in Amed Rosario before Robinson Canó brought him home alongside Brandon Nimmo.
Unfortunately for Atlanta, the inning would only get worse, with their young ace Mike Soroka tearing his achilles while trying to cover first base, ending his season.
Injuries would strike both sides, with both Rosario and Canó exiting the game in the middle innings and McNeil scratched from the lineup with a tight back. A depleted infield will surely worry the Mets as they clash with the defending champion Washington Nationals.
Regardless, breaking a five-game skid and waking up the bats may give hope for this Mets team looking to turn around their season.