NEW YORK -- Upon formally accepting the Mets’ three-year offer to become their next manager, Carlos Beltrán received a swarm of texts from friends, family members and countless individuals within the game of baseball. Among those who reached out were three former teammates from last decade: Carlos Delgado, Pedro Martinez and José Reyes.
All told, Beltrán said, he received approximately 260 texts, replying to each one individually because “you’ve got to reply when you receive love.”
“It really showed me that I did good things in baseball,” he said.
Beltrán related that story late Monday morning at Citi Field not to boast, but to emphasize the importance of relationships in the game. Although Beltrán accepted the Mets’ job without any prior managerial or coaching experience, he returned to the team having accumulated 20 years’ knowledge as a player, one as a front-office executive and a lifetime more as a son, husband, father and friend.
Emotion is important, Beltrán said. Relationships are everything. At one point during his press conference, he choked up talking about the children in his namesake academy in Puerto Rico. Beltrán’s ability to bring that sort of perspective into a big league clubhouse is part of why the Mets value him.
“His familiarity with New York City, his familiarity with the Mets, his understanding of how to cope with expectations, adversity and success all factored into it,” Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said of his decision. “Carlos didn’t want a job. He wanted this job, and that was powerful in our process.”
Upon arriving at his press conference Monday, Beltrán slipped on his familiar No. 15 Mets jersey, which he wore from 2005-11 as a player, and spoke about the road that led to him becoming manager. Because Beltrán lives in New York, he did not consider any other jobs. Because he was intimately familiar with the Mets' organization -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- from his six-and-a-half seasons here, he understood better than anyone the challenges that await him. The Mets, in turn, know full well what they are getting.
“I feel like I was coming to a place where I didn’t have to sell anything,” Beltrán said. “They knew what kind of person I am. They knew what I can bring to the table.”
Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon was already in place when the team signed Beltrán after the 2004 season. The GM who negotiated with Beltrán, Omar Minaya, is now a special advisor to Van Wagenen. The executive who oversaw Beltrán’s tenure in Kansas City before he was traded to the Astros as part of a three-team deal in 2004, Allard Baird, is now an assistant GM in New York. Even Van Wagenen, who had no direct connection to the Mets back then, watched Beltrán frequently as a season-ticket holder at Shea Stadium and at Citi Field.
Both sides understand there will be a learning curve for a manager with no experience, which is fine by them. Already, Beltrán has spoken with friends and former managers including Terry Collins, Alex Cora, AJ Hinch and Aaron Boone because, in his words, “no one knows everything.” He sees the job as “a beautiful opportunity” to win in New York, after making the postseason just once in seven tries with the Mets as a player. By the time Beltrán won his first World Series with the Astros in 2017, he was a role player, which, in Van Wagenen’s opinion, offered him the humility he’ll need to excel at the job.
“We believe he’s the right guy to lead us forward,” Van Wagenen said. “We’ve heard our ownership group talk about how playing meaningful games in September is not enough. It’s not enough for me. It’s not enough for Carlos. I came here to win, and we expect to do that.”
In ending his opening statement Monday, Beltrán thanked the Mets' organization for believing him and giving him the chance.
“I just can’t wait to rewrite our story,” he said.