Cespedes suffers ankle fractures on ranch

May 20th, 2019

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Céspedes' chances of returning in 2019, already slim, have reached something close to zero. The outfielder suffered multiple fractures in his right ankle during an accident Saturday night on his ranch in Florida, and he is likely to miss the rest of the season.

Cespedes suffered a “violent fall” and twisted his ankle in a hole, according to Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who did not offer a timeline for Cespedes’ return. Multiple other sources said that Cespedes, who was recovering from surgery on both heels, does not expect to play again in 2019.

“We’ve tried not to put a timeline on Ces’ rehab from the previous surgeries,” Van Wagenen said. “He was making progress … but he was still a number of thresholds away before he was going to be able to return to activity. It’s hard to speculate on what that means going forward at this point.”

Neither Van Wagenen nor others close to Cespedes would comment on the nature of Cespedes’ fall, except to say that it occurred during a non-baseball activity -- not as a result of riding or caring for the horses he owns on that property. When asked if Cespedes was in any way in violation of his contract, Van Wagenen declined comment.

Cespedes was in New York on Monday to meet with Mets doctors.

“We haven’t even thought about implications to a contract,” said Van Wagenen, the lead agent who negotiated Cespedes’ four-year, $110-million deal before becoming the Mets’ GM. “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.”

Since signing his contract, Cespedes has appeared in just 119 games, missing significant time due to hamstring and hip injuries, and eventually to the heel surgeries he underwent last August and October. Cespedes was in the process of recovering from those operations -- he recently began a jogging program and had been swinging a bat -- when he suffered his fall. The Mets’ hope was that he would have been able to return at some point in the second half, but team officials no longer see that goal as realistic.

So continues Cespedes’ turbulent Mets tenure, though he began it as one of the most productive Trade Deadline acquisitions in Major League history in 2015. Bashing 17 home runs down the stretch that year to lead the Mets to the playoffs, and eventually the World Series, Cespedes re-signed on a three-year, $75-million contract that winter, but opted out after a single season. The Mets re-signed him again after that, this time on a four-year, $110-million contract with a full no-trade clause. They also invested in an insurance policy on that contract, using it to recoup some portion of his salary. But chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon has said that the team counts Cespedes’ entire contract as part of its payroll, regardless of how much the Mets recoup.

When healthy, Cespedes has produced, batting .282 with 26 homers and an .869 OPS the past two seasons. But if he returns on Opening Day 2020, Cespedes will be 34 years old and 21 months removed from his most recent plate appearance at any professional level. The Mets can only hope he can still be a productive player at that time.

“Our focus currently is to try to get him the best medical care,” Van Wagenen said, “and then hopefully get a better idea of what this means for his future, both in 2019 and beyond.”