For years, his passion and knowledge for baseball made former MLB outfielder Carlos Beltran seem like an energizing fit for an MLB managerial position. After retiring from the game as a player after 2017, Beltran’s name was linked to various openings before he finally landed a gig in November as the skipper for one of the teams for which he played during his 20-year career, the New York Mets.
His time in the role would be short-lived, as Beltran's tenure as Mets manager ended Thursday before he ever managed a single game.
The Mets announced Thursday afternoon that they have mutually parted ways with Beltran amid his connection to the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal that has rocked the baseball world this winter. Beltran spent the final season of his playing career with the Astros in 2017.
In a nine-page report issued by Rob Manfred Monday, the MLB commissioner detailed how the 2017 Astros had committed numerous violations of MLB rules to gain a competitive advantage, including the use of prohibited technology to steal signs from opposing teams. In the report, Manfred issued suspensions for Houston GM Jeff Luhnow and field manager AJ Hinch, who were both subsequently fired by Astros owner Jim Crane for their connection to the scandal.
Manfred’s report also detailed the heavy involvement in the scheme by Alex Cora. At the time, Cora served as the Astros bench coach and was deemed responsible for a significant amount of the cheating scheme. He had subsequently become the manager of the Red Sox, and though his imminent punishment has yet to be announced by MLB, Cora was relieved of his duties with Boston on Tuesday in light of the conclusion of the investigation.
As an organization, the Astros’ punishment included a $5 million fine and a loss of four upcoming draft picks spread over the next two years. As for the actual players who were involved in the cheating, however, Manfred declined to issue any punishments. In fact, he declined to mention any of the players who participated in the scheme, with one exception: Carlos Beltran.
Beltran played for Houston during the season in question, and after dozens of interviews with relevant parties, Manfred determined that Beltran's role in the scandal was of such significance that he should stand alone as the sole player highlighted in the report for his participation.
That Houston and Boston had both opted to fire their managers as a result of the implications of Manfred's report put the Mets in an awkward position, with the eyes of the baseball world fixed on their next move. Ultimately, statements from the Mets and Beltran indicate the parting was mutually agreed upon.
Statement from Carlos Beltrán. pic.twitter.com/gv9NNIzoQd— New York Mets (@Mets) January 16, 2020
ESPN's Jeff Passan noted earlier this week that since Beltran was a player at the time of the scandal, and no players were disciplined by MLB for their roles in it, that Beltran would thusly not be suspended. Some have speculated, though, that by including Beltran's name in the report, Manfred attempted to apply pressure on Mets ownership to part with Beltran of their own volition.
In an odd but entertaining twist to the story, internet sleuths have speculated that Beltran created an anonymous Twitter account Tuesday dedicated to defending himself against online attacks in wake of this scandal.
Thursday morning, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon dodged questions regarding Beltran's status during an event dedicated to renaming a street after former Mets catcher Mike Piazza near the Mets spring training home in Port St. Lucie.
holy mother of cringe pic.twitter.com/9YPxYppKYR— Shannon (@Miss_Met) January 16, 2020
The revelation of Beltran's apparent willingness to skirt around the rules of fair conduct in the game is a disappointing development considering Beltran’s previously respected stature across baseball. A former Cardinal, Beltran provided several memorable moments for local fans during his two seasons in St. Louis from 2012 to 2013.
His baseball acumen was on display daily for those who watched him play. It was that very aptitude and his perceived ability to positively influence a variety of personalities within a major-league clubhouse that seemingly rendered him such a capable candidate for a long career as an MLB manager.
That those traits are being called into considerable question is a shame--one that has damaged Beltran's managerial career before it ever got off the ground.