Mets' Céspedes opts out of season for 'COVID-related reasons,' team says

Star outfielder's decision comes as MLB restart struggles with positive tests, postponed games, closed park.
Image: Boston Red Sox v New York Mets
Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets reacts after striking out in the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Citi Field in New York City on July 30, 2020.Mike Stobe / Getty Images
By Ben Kesslen

New York Mets star Yoenis Céspedes, who did not report to the ballpark for Sunday's game in Atlanta and did not originally explain his absence, has opted out of the entire season for "COVID-related reasons," the team told NBC News.

Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen did not get more specific about Céspedes' decision, but originally had said team officials did not know where the player was.

"As of game time, Céspedes has not reported to the ballpark today," General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen said in the earlier statement Sunday afternoon. "He did not reach out to management with any explanation for his absence. Our attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful."

Later, Van Wagenen confirmed to NBC News that Céspedes' absence was due to "COVID-related reasons."

Céspedes, 34, originally from Cuba, is an outfielder for the Mets, and has been on the team since 2015. He missed the entire 2019 season because of injury, but returned for the 2020 season. In his first game back in July against the Atlanta Braves, Céspedes hit a home run.

This decision comes as Major League Baseball has struggled with how to respond to the pandemic. The Philadelphia Phillies announced the closure of their home field on Thursday after two team staffers tested positive for COVID-19, days after the team played the coronavirus-stricken Miami Marlins.

The Marlins said on Monday that they would postpone their games through Sunday after a coronavirus outbreak among players.

NBC News was not immediately able to reach the MLB Players Association for comment.

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.