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New York Mets slugger Yoenis Cespedes is the latest player to opt out of Major League Baseball's 2020 season. Cespedes was not in Sunday's lineup (ATL 4, NYM 0) and initially it was assumed to be a routine off-day. He is coming back from heel and ankle injuries and the Mets had been easing him back into action early this season. He'd started each of the previous five games. Sunday's absence is not a routine off-day, however. 

Soon after first pitch the Mets announced they were unable to reach Cespedes and he had not reported to the ballpark. He went AWOL, basically. 

Here is GM Brodie Van Wagenen's statement from early Sunday afternoon:

"As of game time, Yoenis Céspedes has not reported to the ballpark today. He did not reach out to management with any explanation for his absence. Our attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful." 

The Mets later clarified their statement to say they had no reason to believe Cespedes' safety is at risk. It wasn't until after Sunday's game that Van Wagenen confirmed Cespedes had decided to opt out for "COVID reasons."

"We will support him in that decision. It was surprising, without question," Van Wagenen said during a conference call. He added team security checked on Cespedes at the club's hotel and found his stuff packed up and gone. Van Wagenen said Cespedes is healthy.

"It went from a concerning pregame to finding out what happened and then obviously supporting his decision," manager Luis Rojas said.

Eighteen Marlins players and at least four Cardinals personnel have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last week, forcing more than a dozen games to be postponed. Since then Marlins infielder Isan Diaz and Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain have opted out. Cespedes is the 18th player on a team's roster to opt out not including Nick Markakis, who opted back in.

Cespedes was slated to earn $2.2 million during the 60-game season and he will become a free agent this winter. The opt-out decision likely ends his Mets tenure, which started with a bang in 2015. Cespedes played like an MVP after joining the team in a midseason trade that season and helped New York win the NL pennant. Injuries have sabotaged his last few years, however.

The 34-year-old Cespedes went 5 for 31 (.161) with two home runs in eight games this season. He went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts Saturday night. This season was his first game action since 2018 due to injuries.