Van Wagenen addressed Cespedes' decision with reporters after the Mets' 4-0 loss. The general manager said Cespedes was doing so over "COVID-related issues" and that the team had not previously known of the possibility that he would opt out.
"We support everybody and every player's right to make this type of decision. This is a challenging time for everyone," Van Wagenen said. "It was surprising, without question. At the same point, we have to go forward and not allow anything to keep us from going forward."
Van Wagenen said he learned of Cespedes' decision from his agent during Sunday's game. When the team sent security to Cespedes' hotel room, he was not there and his belongings were gone, Van Wagenen said.
Earlier Sunday, the Mets had released a statement in which Van Wagenen said they could not reach Cespedes.
"He did not reach out to management with any explanation for his absence," Van Wagenen said. "Our attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful."
After the game, Van Wagenen said he was glad Cespedes is OK, "because there's a period of time where we weren't sure." He also called Sunday's development a "disappointing end" to Cespedes' four-year contract with the Mets; Cespedes is set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Cespedes, 34, was the designated hitter for Saturday's 7-1 loss to the Braves, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.He had served as the Mets' designated hitter in eight games this season, going 5-for-31 (.161) with 15 strikeouts.
A two-time All-Star, Cespedes returned to the lineup this season for the first time since July 20, 2018. He missed most of the past two years with a series of leg problems, getting surgery on both heels and then a broken ankle after a tumble at his Florida ranch from a reportedrun-in with a wild boar.
Information from ESPN's Jeff Passan and The Associated Press was used in this report.
Passan: Cespedes simply frustrated with Mets organization
Jeff Passan explains Yoenis Cespedes' frustration and why he decided to opt out of the remainder of the 2020 season with the Mets.
Mets GM says contract incentives were not a reason why Cespedes opted out
Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen explains why, to his knowledge, Yoenis Cespedes opted out due to COVID-19 concerns, not contract incentives.