Beltrán, Mets mutually part ways

January 16th, 2020

NEW YORK -- In a stunning reversal, the Mets and “mutually agreed to part ways,” on Thursday, less than three months after Beltrán became the team’s manager. He did not manage a single game with the Mets, who suddenly find themselves without a top baseball official less than a month before the start of Spring Training.

“I’m grateful to them for giving me the opportunity, but we agreed this decision is in the best interest of the team,” Beltrán said in a statement. “I couldn’t let myself be a distraction for the team. I wish the entire organization success in the future.”

The decision came in the wake of Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Astros’ sign-stealing practices in 2017, which resulted in one-year suspensions for Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch on Monday. The Astros subsequently dismissed both employees. A day later, the Red Sox parted ways with manager Alex Cora, who was a coach on that Astros team and was also facing the prospect of significant MLB discipline.

Beltrán was the only player implicated in MLB’s report, as someone who “discussed that the [Astros] could improve on decoding opposing teams’ signs and communicating the signs to the batter.” The league described Beltrán as a person with knowledge of the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme, but did not discipline him or any other player.

“Over my 20 years in the game, I’ve always taken pride in being a leader and doing things the right way, and in this situation, I failed,” Beltrán said. “As a veteran player on the team, I should’ve recognized the severity of the issue and truly regret the actions that were taken. I am a man of faith and integrity and what took place did not demonstrate those characteristics that are so very important to me and my family. I'm very sorry.”

The Mets hired Beltrán in November, two years after his retirement as a player. He previously spent seven seasons with the organization, before ending his career with a World Series title in Houston in 2017. Following his retirement, Beltrán moved to the Yankees’ front office for a year, then accepted the Mets’ managerial job.

Approximately two weeks later, a story in The Athletic detailed the Astros’ sign-stealing practices in 2017; MLB subsequently opened an investigation into the matter, interviewing players, coaches and managers, including Beltrán. The Mets cooperated with MLB’s investigation, but did not ask Beltrán about his involvement until this week.

Wednesday, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon met with members of the MLB Commissioner’s Office in Manhattan to discuss Beltrán’s status. They then flew to Florida to meet with Beltrán, who was engaged in meetings with his coaching staff.

“Here’s the best way I think we can describe it: When we met with Carlos, we had to make an assessment of, ‘Where do we go from here?’” Van Wagenen said. “In Carlos’ thought process, as well as ours, we both agreed that it was going to be incredibly challenging, and incredibly difficult to do the job in the way in which he intended, and the way in which he can utilize the best of his abilities.”

Beltrán is not the first Major League manager to depart without managing a single game. In November 2004, the D-backs hired Wally Backman, then dismissed him four days later following reports detailing his legal and financial troubles. Beltrán spent a longer period on the job, helping the Mets fill their roster and coaching staff over the course of more than two months.

Wilpon declined to comment on the financial terms of the team's parting with Beltrán, who had a three-year contract.

“The emotion of getting to know a person and an employee as we did with Carlos over the course of the last several months is hard,” Van Wagenen said. “This is a person that I grew to know, I grew to like. Obviously, in choosing him in the first place, this is a person that we believed was the best person to lead our team. As the weeks and months have unfolded, it became clear that that wasn’t the case. And that’s difficult for us to have to recognize. … We truly do believe that this will not be the final chapter in Carlos’ baseball career.”

The Mets now have less than four weeks to find a new manager before the official start of Spring Training. Before hiring Beltrán, they interviewed a wide pool of candidates, including their quality control coach, Luis Rojas, as well as ESPN broadcaster Eduardo Pérez. Those two and others remain possibilities.

“I don’t think the values that we’re looking for have changed,” Van Wagenen said. “This team is one that we believe in. This team is one that we believe can contend, and we want to make sure that we have the right support system around them to achieve their success. That includes … ultimately, a new manager.”