Yoenis Cespedes made a big commitment to the New York Mets over the winter, agreeing to a four-year, $110 million contract. But according to Cespedes himself, that doesn’t mean New York will be the final stop in his career.
In fact, before the Mets took on the Oakland Athletics at Citi Field on Friday night, Cespedes told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that the preferred final chapter of his playing career would take him back where it all began: Oakland.
“I wish that happens,” Cespedes told the Chronicle of finishing his playing days with Oakland. “I told (Jerry) Blevins (his former A’s and current Mets teammate), ‘I don’t know how many years I’m going to play, but I’m going to play the last year of my career with Oakland.’ I don’t know if that’s possible or not, but that’s my goal.”
Cespedes was signed as an amateur free agent by Oakland prior to the 2012 season. He made his debut later that same year, and would spend the first two-plus seasons of his MLB career with the A’s before being traded to Boston at the 2014 deadline. He was then traded to Detroit the following winter.
In between, Cespedes grew to love the city of Oakland. He’s also clearly developed a deep appreciation for the opportunity the A’s gave him. Enough, anyway, that he’s comfortable making it public that bringing his career full circle in Oakland is a higher priority than finishing with the Mets.
“I still love the A’s, they were the first team to give me an opportunity to play in the big leagues,’ Cespedes said. “I love Oakland all the time.”
That’s a lot of love for Oakland, with nary a word about New York. We’re guessing that won’t sit well with some Mets fans. Some might even be quick to assume Cespedes has already checked out if he’s planning for life after New York. That’s clearly not the case. When healthy and even at times when he clearly isn’t healthy, Cespedes is on the field as often as possible when cleared to be there.
Cespedes was also clear about his respect for Oakland manager Bob Melvin, calling him the best he’s played for in MLB.
“I tell my guys here all the time that he’s the best manager for me so far,” Cespedes said. “I don’t think there’s a better manager than Melvin.”
It’s not really a dig at Mets manager Terry Collins, but it’s enough to make you stop and think. It adds another layer to a story that’s already awkward.
It’s anybody’s guess how this will ultimately play out, or if it will even be remembered next month, let alone when Cespedes’ contract runs out following the 2020 season. A lot of time these types of stories blow away faster than they blow up. And besides that, there’s a lot of baseball to be played, a lot of questions that will have to be answered, and a lot of opportunity for minds to be changed.
In the here and now though, it perfectly fits the tone of a Mets season where there’s always something simmer that just doesn’t feel right.
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