Beltrán 'back in the family' as Mets' manager

November 2nd, 2019

NEW YORK -- For nearly seven years, Carlos Beltrán served as one of the most productive position players and free-agent signings in Mets history. The team now plans to bring him back as an on-field leader for what it hopes is an even longer time to come.

The Mets announced Friday that they signed Beltrán to a three-year managerial contract with a fourth-year club option, making the Puerto Rico native the first Latino manager in Mets history.

“We are thrilled, as we know our passionate fans will be, to have him back in the family,” Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said in a statement.

After signing a then-record seven-year, $119 million contract before the 2005 season, Beltrán batted .280 with 149 home runs and 100 stolen bases over 6 1/2 years in Flushing, making five All-Star teams. His Mets tenure ended when the rebuilding club traded him to the Giants in July 2011 for Zack Wheeler. Beltrán went on to play for four more teams after the Giants, winning his first title with the Astros in 2017. A year after retiring, he took a job as a special advisor for the Yankees, who lauded his work in that role.

“He’ll be an amazing manager,” one of Beltrán’s former teammates, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, said last month. “When he shows up and gets a job with the Mets, I feel like he’s going to change the culture of that clubhouse, he’s going to show the young players how to take care of business, how to study the other teams, how to take every single advantage that you can. He’s going to be a game-changer.”

Beltrán will replace Mickey Callaway, whom the Mets dismissed last month after two seasons at the helm. Upon parting ways with Callaway, the Mets commenced what general manager Brodie Van Wagenen called “a very detailed managerial search process” that included candidates ranging from Joe Girardi to Beltrán, Eduardo Pérez, Tim Bogar, Derek Shelton, Luis Rojas and others. Like Beltrán, most of the candidates had no previous managerial experience.

Unlike those competitors, Beltrán only interviewed for one job, making it clear he wanted to manage the Mets alone. He declined an interview with the Padres, though he did take one with the Yankees two years ago for the gig that went to Aaron Boone.

“I feel like I played long enough to learn the game, and I do feel that I have a lot of things to contribute in the clubhouse,” Beltrán said last month. “Yes, the experience is not there because I have not done it, but I do believe it’s something that with the opportunity, I can learn.”

At the outset of the managerial search, some within the industry offered skepticism that Beltrán, who had a public spat with Mets owners regarding his knee surgery in 2010, would fit snugly into the organizational culture. Some fans still point with frustrated fingers at the called strike three Beltrán took from Adam Wainwright to end the 2006 National League Championship Series, even though Beltrán has long since moved on.

“I don’t think you can continue to progress in life if you think about the past,” he said. “What happened with the Mets -- the ups and downs, the way and the perception and the way the fans thought about me -- for me, that was a moment where I was able to turn that page. After 2011, I continued and I showed people that I was healthy and could play the game. I showed people that maybe the negative things they were saying about me is not who I am as a person.”

Beltrán still lives in the New York City area, commuting to Yankee Stadium this summer to fulfill his advisory duties, which included working with Minor League affiliates, advising younger players and advance scouting against opposing big league pitchers, as well as learning the ins and outs of front office work from GM Brian Cashman. Off the field, Beltrán won the Roberto Clemente Award in 2013 for his humanitarian work. He has funded both a foundation and an academy in his native Puerto Rico.

A potential Hall of Famer once he is eligible in 2022, Beltran hit .279/.350/.486 with 435 home runs and 312 steals over a 20-year playing career. He came up with the Royals, whose general manager at the time, Allard Baird, now serves as assistant GM with the Mets. Another key member of New York’s front office, Omar Minaya, was GM when the Mets brought Beltrán to Flushing in 2005. Both Baird and Minaya were intimately involved in the Mets’ search, along with owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon.

Beltrán will become the 10th person to play for and manage the Mets, joining Gil Hodges, Yogi Berra, Joe Torre, Bud Harrelson, Roy McMillan, Mike Cubbage, Dallas Green, Bobby Valentine and Willie Randolph.

“We are very excited to bring Carlos on board as our next manager,” Van Wagenen said in a statement, “and reintroduce him to Mets fans next week.”