Dwight Gooden sees how Yoenis Cespedes handled opting out of the Mets season as a “weak move” that could hurt the slugger next season.
“He may get blackballed [in baseball] next year and I’m OK with that,” the former Cy Young winner said on the latest episode of The Post’s “Amazin’ But True” Mets podcast. “Number one, you put yourself in that position by the stuff you’re doing off the field. Now you miss two, three years when they said throughout baseball don’t give this guy a contract and the Mets did it anyway, and that’s the way you show them. You owe those guys. You owe your teammates, bro. That was a weak move.”
Cespedes opted out of the season over coronavirus concerns on Aug. 2 and did not show up for the Mets game against the Braves that afternoon in Atlanta. The 34-years-old packed up his things in his hotel and left without informing the team he was opting out, GM Brodie Van Wagenen said that day. The Post reported that Cespedes, who was seen out salsa dancing in Garden City three weeks before calling it a season, was unhappy with how the Mets were using him because needed to be in the lineup as much as possible to reach lucrative performance bonuses in his contract.
“I can’t agree with him on this move at all,” Gooden said. “That definitely wasn’t about COVID. I hope I’m wrong.”
Cespedes signed a four-year, $110 million deal with the Mets in 2017 and was set to make $29.5 million this season, but his salary was reduced to $6 million after it was revealed he reinjured himself on his ranch last year in an incident involving a wild boar. His pro-rated salary for 60 games was set to be $2.2 million. He was hitting .161 with two homers and four RBIs in eight games after playing just 119 games combined in 2017 and 2018 combined before missing all of 2019. Gooden said he believes Cespedes would have been better off sticking it out and trying to hit his way to a new contract next season.
“Now with your reputation, with everything that’s going on you, might get a team that will invite him to spring training,” Gooden said. “I don’t know. I’m not wishing bad on anybody, but that was just bad.”
Gooden also took issues with how Marcus Stroman, who had been rehabbing a calf issue, opted out as well — saying it was likely “100 percent” a business decision centered around a concern for getting hurt. Stroman, who cited coronavirus concerns, is a free agent this offseason. He called the choice “a collective family decision.” Gooden thought Stroman could have handled it differently if getting injured was the main concern.
“I understand if that’s the reason,” he said. “Be a man enough to say it, ‘I don’t want to take a chance. I may only get five or six starts. So I don’t want to chance it. I want to get as strong as I can, get healthy and come back next year.’ Say it. Nobody’s gonna shoot you. You good. But don’t give me that bulls–t about I talked to my family and we’re doing what’s best. You’re bringing in the checks, you the man, it’s your call.”