Cespedes did himself, his manager and the Mets no favors Friday night when he opened up to the San Francisco Chronicle that he would like to finish his career in Oakland, and considers A's manager Bob Melvin the best manager he's ever played for.
In an article by Oakland beat writer Susan Slusser, Cespedes told her that he would like to finish his career where it started, with the A's.
“I wish that happens,” Céspedes said, adding of former A’s and current Mets teammate Jerry Blevins, “I told Blevins, ‘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.”
Later in the interview, Cespedes admitted that he had a terrific rapport with Melvin, citing as long as Melvin manages the A's he wants to be there.
“I tell my guys here all the time that he’s the best manager for me so far,” Céspedes said. “I don’t think there’s a better manager than Melvin.”
When asked about Cespedes' comments in the postgame, Terry Collins said it was the first he heard of it, calling Melvin a great manager, but had no comment beyond that.
Finally, once the New York media questioned Cespedes about the comments he answered every question through his interpreter, refusing to speak english. In case you are wondering he was more than willing to speak in plain english to the San Francisco Chronicle when he threw the Mets under the bus.
Cespedes tried to put out the fire, admitting that he felt it would be nice to one day finish his career in Oakland, but meant no disrespect to the Mets or Terry Collins. To some on Friday that was enough, but speaking through the interpreter after basically throwing his current employer under the bus was the cheap way out of a sticky situation.
While he likely meant well, the comments are bad optics. They do not come at a good time for the Mets or Terry Collins, whom some expect is in his final two-and-a-half months as manager.
Cespedes should have put some thought into his answers, because Collins has had his back all the time, especially when Cespedes' commitment to the game has been questioned. Whenever Cespedes went down with an injury, it was Collins who would run into the outfield to see if he was okay. So, while Bob Melvin might have been great to Cespedes when he was in Oakland, Collins has been a very solid leader for the Mets left fielder.
What's most troubling is the comments come as Cespedes is in the first year of a four-year contract that is paying him $22.5 million this season. He is due $29 million in each of the next two seasons, and $29.5 million in 2020. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2021. These comments make it look like Cespedes is counting the days to free agency.
Cespedes should have done a better job clearing the air. One only hopes he means what he said, and will explain himself to his teammates and Terry Collins, so everyone can move on from this.