When Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen walked into the news conference room at Citi Field three hours before the Mets faced the Washington Nationals on Monday, he was expected to address Manager Mickey Callaway’s job status. After getting swept by the lowly Miami Marlins over the weekend, the Mets were on a five-game losing streak, six-and-a-half games out of first place, and rumors were swirling that Callaway might be fired shortly.
Instead, Van Wagenen started with a bizarre injury update that only added to the sense of chaos surrounding the Mets.
Yoenis Cespedes, the left fielder who has not played a game this season after having off-season surgery on both of his heels, had informed the team on Saturday night that he had fractured his right ankle in a “violent” fall on his ranch in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Van Wagenen declined to put a timetable on a possible return for Cespedes, who was already expected to miss at least the majority of this season, and said that he did not yet know whether Cespedes might miss time in 2020, as well.
“Hard to predict what the future is,” Van Wagenen said. “We need to get more information from the doctors.”
Van Wagenen, who left his job as a player agent to become the Mets’ G.M. last off-season, represented Cespedes in a contract negotiation after the 2016 season that netted the player a four year-contract extension worth $110 million. After learning of Cespedes’s fall late Saturday, Van Wagenen left the Mets’ series in Miami to see his former client and current employee.
According to Van Wagenen, Cespedes told the team that he had fallen after stepping in a hole on his ranch, twisting his right ankle and sustaining multiple fractures. Van Wagenen noted that Cespedes had been performing a non-baseball activity when the accident occurred.
When asked if Cespedes, who once rode a horse into the team’s parking lot during spring training, had fallen off a horse, Van Wagenen responded that Cespedes had said he was not riding a horse.
“Our focus currently is to try to get him the best medical care and then hopefully get a better idea what this means for his future both in 2019 and beyond,” Van Wagenen said.
Cespedes, 33, was to be evaluated by doctors at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan on Monday.
Cespedes signed his extension after a season in which he played in 132 games and was an All-Star. But the Mets’ investment in him was viewed as a risky commitment for a 31-year-old player, and the front office’s worst fears have largely come true since. Various injuries have limited Cespedes to 81 games in 2017 and 38 games last year. Even before the ankle injury, Van Wagenen said on Monday, Cespedes had been far from returning from his heel operations.
“We haven’t even thought about implications to a contract,” Van Wagenen said. “Our focus right now is on the player’s health and trying to get the right answers of what procedures need to be done, if any, and what the prognosis will be coming out of this.”
Cespedes helped power the Mets to the World Series in 2015 after being acquired just before the trade deadline that season in a swap with the Detroit Tigers. That winter, he signed a three-year contract worth $75 million to stay in Queens. He exercised his opt-out clause the next winter after another strong season — a .280 average, 31 home runs and 86 R.B.I.
But since then, he has had numerous injuries. In 2017, he missed time with hamstring and quadriceps ailments. Last year, he went on the disabled list on May 14 for a right hip flexor strain. He later suffered a setback while rehabilitating it in a minor league game, and the team announced that his season was over in July because of calcification and bone spurs in both heels.
After Cespedes went down last season, the Mets were unable to string together wins and fell below .500 by midsummer before finishing 77-85.
Callaway added Cespedes to a growing list of concerns Monday. After Van Wagenen was done talking, Callaway acknowledged that, like their absent outfielder, the Mets had also fallen into a hole.
“We have to climb out of it,” he said, “and I believe we will.”
Source: The New York Times