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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

On a winding path, Carlos Beltrán will return to Mets

Carlos Beltrán played for the Mets and the Yankees during his 20-season career.

By David Waldstein

Carlos Beltrán’s eventful post-playing career has taken yet another interesting turn. Just three years after being fired as manager of the New York Mets, the former star outfielder will return to the club as a member of its front office.

Beltrán, who came up short last month in his first time on the writers’ ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame, will join general manager Billy Eppler’s staff to help build the Mets roster and develop the organization’s talent base. The New York Post first reported Beltrán’s return to the club, but no public announcement is expected until final details of the deal have been worked out.

A former player joining a front office is far from unusual, but this is just the latest twist for Beltrán in the five years since he retired as a player. He spent three months as the Mets’ manager, but was fired without ever managing a game after being outed as a chief architect of the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. As a New York Yankees broadcaster, he spoke for the first time about his role in that scandal. Most recently, he endured a disappointing showing on his first Hall of Fame ballot, being named on 46.5% of ballots despite being the most prominent of the year’s first-time finalists.

This next chapter has Beltrán as the latest person of note to join one of the New York teams’ front offices in an offseason in which both clubs have sought to bolster their staffs with so-called baseball people. The Yankees brought in two veteran baseball executives, Omar Minaya and Brian Sabean, to support Brian Cashman, the team’s general manager, who was working without a contract before agreeing to a four-year deal in December.

Eppler and Beltrán had an existing bond from their time together with the Yankees, when Eppler was an assistant general manager and Beltrán played for the team from 2014-16.

It is not yet known what Beltrán’s job duties will be with the Mets. But his insights and understanding of the game, including pitching, could be useful in talent assessment and strategic outlook.

A return to the Mets may come as a surprise to some, but many faces have changed since he was first brought in to be manager in November 2019. Back then, he was to report to Brodie Van Wagenen, who was the team’s general manager, and the Wilpon family’s ownership group, which had yet to sell the team to Steven Cohen.

After an investigation by Major League Baseball detailed Beltrán’s role in the 2017 Houston Astros cheating scandal — a scandal which was first revealed by The Athletic — the Mets fired Beltrán after less than three months on the job. He did not oversee a single practice.

Beltrán, now 45, was the only player named in MLB’s report. The report said he encouraged and helped devise the scheme with Alex Cora, who was an Astros coach. Cora moved on to manage the Red Sox to the 2018 World Series championship, was let go in 2020 for his involvement in the scandal, then brought back to manage Boston in 2021.

Beltrán has said he never dreamed of becoming a manager when he was younger, but when the job was offered he felt a responsibility, as a former player from Puerto Rico, to take it, do well and make it easier for others to do so. It has been reported that manager Buck Showalter, who was the National League manager of the year in 2022 in his first season with the Mets, had considered adding Beltrán to his coaching staff for that year, but Beltrán chose to remain as a commentator with the YES Network.

In his seven years as a Met, Beltrán put up sensational numbers. He had an .869 on-base plus slugging percentage, 149 home runs, 208 doubles and 100 stolen bases. He put up 31.1 wins above replacement for the Mets, according to Baseball Reference, which placed him seventh in Mets history overall and third among Mets position players, trailing only David Wright and Darryl Strawberry.

He made five All-Star teams as a Met and came in fourth in NL Most Valuable Player Award voting in 2006, a year in which the Mets made the National League Championship Series. Many Mets fans remember Beltrán striking out looking at a nasty curveball from Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals to end Game 7 of that series instead of his many other accomplishments with the team.

In 2011, the Mets traded Beltrán to the San Francisco Giants for Zack Wheeler, a pitching prospect at the time. Beltrán, who came up with the Kansas City Royals, played six more seasons, spending time with the Cardinals, the Yankees, the Texas Rangers and the Astros.

In 20 years, Beltrán amassed 435 home runs, a .279/.350/.486 slash line and was regarded as an exceptional center fielder. His overall numbers are close to those of Scott Rolen, but Rolen was the only player elected into this year’s class for the Hall of Fame. Rolen received 76.3% of the vote, while Beltrán’s 46.5% placed him behind Todd Helton, Billy Wagner, Andruw Jones and Gary Sheffield, all of whom had more than 50%.

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