The New York Mets got more bad news yesterday when Yoenis Cespedes suffered several fractures in his right ankle. The injury reportedly occurred when Cespedes suffered a “violent” fall on his ranch in Florida, with General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen declining to offer specifics on how exactly Cespedes fell. This latest setback is another blow for the Mets, who are paying Cespedes $29.5 million this season and the same salary again next season, but depending on how this injury occurred the team could try and get out of the rest of the contract.
SNY’s Andy Martino notes that the Mets could have a way out of the contract contingent on how the injury was suffered and the specific language in Cespedes’ deal. Most baseball contracts have clauses in them that can void the deal based on the player engaging in behaviors that could lead to injury risk. One of the most famous examples of this occurred with the New York Yankees in 2004, who were able to release Aaron Boone after he tore up his knee playing pickup basketball.
In the Mets’ case, it would all depend on how Cespedes suffered the injury. If it was, as reports have indicated, a case where he stepped into a hole and fell awkwardly, it would not be a scenario where the Mets could get out of the deal. Things would be different if Cespedes was doing an activity that could be deemed as risky behavior, such as riding a horse, but it would depend on the specific language in Cespedes’ contract.
Martino notes that teams cannot void a contract for a player engaging in behavior that is prohibited by the terms of the agreement, but they would be permitted to change the deal into a non-guaranteed deal That would permit the team to release the player without paying him any of his remaining salary, freeing the money up to be used elsewhere.
Considering how much money Cespedes is still owed, don’t be surprised if the Mets look into this possibility. Cespedes was already facing a long road back after dual heel surgeries, and adding several ankle fractures to the mix could impact his potential availability for 2020. 2020 is the last year of Cespedes’ deal, which has turned into an unmitigated disaster for the Mets, but this latest injury could end up turning into a get out of jail free card for the franchise.