New York Mets’ outfielder Yoenis Cespedes created a firestorm yesterday when he granted a rare interview to Oakland A’s beat reporter Susan Slusser. Slusser’s article, which was published in the San Francisco Chronicle, notes that Cespedes wants to finish his career with the A’s and also saw the former Athletic sing the praises of manager Bob Melvin. Cespedes described Melvin as the best manager he has ever played for, drawing criticism from the New York media since they perceived it as a shot at current Mets’ manager Terry Collins. Mets’ fans also weren’t too thrilled about Cespedes’ desire to finish his career in Oakland, sentiments undoubtedly fueled by the Mets’ poor season and Cespedes’ bad performance.
After the game, Cespedes clarified his remarks to reporters, indicating that he meant no disrespect to Collins for his comments about how great of a manager Melvin is. The statement about finishing his career in Oakland was simply a case of Cespedes hoping to go full circle in his career, finishing it with the team that gave him a big league shot. While the interview certainly created, as Mets’ General Manager Sandy Alderson once termed, bad optics for Cespedes it really isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
Mets’ fans are quick to forget that Cespedes left money on the table in 2016 to come back and play for this organization simply because he loved it here. Cespedes also requested a no trade clause in his current contract, which he signed over the winter, to ensure that he could stay in Queens for the next four years. If that isn’t a sign that Cespedes wants to be here, I don’t know what to tell you. Even if Cespedes does want to finish his career with a last year in Oakland, that is at least five to seven years down the road, so flipping out over his desire to potentially play in Oakland in 2023 is a bit much.
As far as Cespedes’ comments about Melvin, part of that may be attributed to the language barrier. Cespedes rarely grants interviews in English, so it is entirely possible that he simply was trying to praise Melvin without insulting Collins. The fact that Cespedes quickly addressed the situation after the game shows that he does have respect for his current manager, although the comments themselves could have been phrased better. It may simply be a case of Mets’ fans being frustrated over a bad season and Cespedes’ poor play in it, but riding one of the few stars who has been willing to take less money to stay with an organization is in poor taste. Cespedes didn’t really say anything that offensive in the interview, and people who claim that he insulted the Mets or their fans in the process are simply a bit oversensitive.