It always seemed there’d be an interesting tale when details finally emerged regarding Yoenis Cespedes’s mysterious ranch injury last year. And indeed the story spun by the New York Post baseball team of Joel Sherman, Ken Davidoff, and Mike Puma isn’t a boring one … well, not exactly.
The ankle injury Cespedes suffered, which occurred while he was rehabbing from surgeries to both heels, put him on the shelf for the remainder of the 2019 season. In concert with preexisting leg issues, the new malady put the remainder of Cespedes’s career in doubt. It also spurred an effort by the Mets to avoid much of the remaining money they owed him, resulting in a recent agreement on an amended contract.
As it turns out — drum roll, please — Cespedes was injured when he plunged into a hole during some kind of interaction with a wild boar. Precise details aren’t clear, and probably don’t matter much at this point. It’s not difficult to imagine some of the myriad ways in which one might end up in a compromised position while in the vicinity of such a creature.
Cespedes came clean about the matter from the outset, at least in the main, according to the report. All involved may or may not agree on all the particulars, it seems, but they have generally accepted that the malady was indeed boar-related.
So, what’s a player contract say about an injury that results from such an unlikely series of events? It depends upon the precise details of that player’s own pact, some of which include specially negotiated language. Whether there’s anything relevant in the Cespedes contract isn’t known in this case. Section XVI(B) of the Uniform Player Contract does prohibit players from engaging in “any other sport or activity involving a substantial risk of personal injury,” though that provision is framed in the context of engaging in sporting events and its application to this factual setting would no doubt be a matter of some debate.
Had the sides ended up in a grievance proceeding on the subject, they’d have been forced to engage in an exploration of both the full facts and the proper interpretation of the contract. (If there are any unique clauses in this deal, the interpretation of which could conceivably have required exploration of the original negotiation of the contract, current Mets GM and former Cespedes agent Brodie Van Wagenen would’ve been even more hopelessly conflicted than he was already.) After weighing the costs and risks, the sides instead settled on the aforementioned renegotiation, with the blessing of MLB and the MLBPA.