NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes, who has played in less than half of the Mets' games since signing a four-year, $110 million contract after the 2016 season, is about to miss a significant chunk of the future. The Mets announced Wednesday that Cespedes will undergo multiple surgeries to eliminate calcification and bone spurs in both heels.
The surgeries carry a minimum recovery period of eight to 10 months, knocking Cespedes out for the rest of this season and likely some of 2019. Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said the recovery could be longer, but will not be shorter.
"Nobody would like to go through surgery at any time," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "I try to do my best to stay on the field and play a lot, but we exhausted all of the conservative treatment options. … I was not able to be on the field and play the same way I used to."
Cespedes, 32, missed significant chunks of last season due to hamstring and quad strains. He spent the offseason working on his flexibility, eschewing heavy weights in favor of yoga. But a hip flexor strain landed him on the disabled list May 14, and he wound up missing more than nine weeks. The Mets now believe the calcification in Cespedes' heels caused him to alter his running style, resulting in his myriad leg injuries.
"You get to the point where that doesn't make any sense, because you're just going to stay in that cycle," Ricco said. "We had him checked out by the doctors, and they've agreed that we've exhausted the conservative options. Now, surgery is really the only way to resolve this issue.
"As to whether this surgery completely heals it, there are no guarantees. But one thing is sure: This is the only option we have at this point."
Following a lengthy rehab that included at least one setback, Cespedes returned Friday at Yankee Stadium. He homered and played the entire game as the Mets' designated hitter, but revealed afterward that he was playing through calcification in both heels.
"There was a moment when we played the Yankees last weekend that I couldn't do it any more," Cespedes said. "I knew since a long time ago that the only choice was to have surgery. But I always thought of having the surgery after I retire. I've been playing through this, thinking that maybe when I finish my career, I can go and have surgery. But now, in this moment, I cannot think that way any more."
The change in Cespedes' thought process began a spiral of events that continued Saturday, when manager Mickey Callaway -- who later said he "misspoke" -- claimed he was unaware of Cespedes' comments about his heels. The following day, Ricco defended the Mets' treatment of their $110 million player, who traveled to Manhattan on Monday for appointments with team physician Dr. David Altchek and a foot specialist.
Tuesday, the Mets placed Cespedes on the disabled list while he waited for an out-of-state doctor who read his X-rays to give him a third opinion. That specialist, Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay, Wis., will perform Cespedes' surgeries: An operation on one heel followed by a two- to three-month recovery period, then a second operation operation on the opposite side.
"I know Cespedes," Mets outfielder Michael Conforto said, "and he's going to crush his rehab, and he's going to be just fine."
Cespedes' season finishes with a .262 average, nine home runs and an .821 OPS in 38 games. He has appeared in just 119 games since signing a four-year, $110 million contract following the 2016 season.
The Mets do hold an insurance policy on Cespedes' contract, allowing them to recoup salary in much the same way they do with David Wright, who has not played since May 2016. However, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said in January that the Mets consider Wright's full salary part of their payroll, and thus do not reinvest money saved in baseball operations. Ricco declined to say whether this situation will be the same.
Ricco added that the Mets do not expect Cespedes' decision to factor into their non-waiver Trade Deadline plans, including whether they decide to deal Jacob deGrom or other stars.
"Certainly when you don't have one of your best players on the field, you have to look at your team differently," Ricco said, when asked if Cespedes' surgery changes the Mets' long-term strategy. "At this point, we just found this information out in the last day or so. I think it's a little bit too quick to speculate as to how we're going to change our plan moving forward."