Carlos Beltran, who was implicated in the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal this week, stepped down as the Mets manager on Thursday, less than three months after he was hired, the team announced.
“We met with Carlos last night and again this morning and agreed to mutually part ways,” Jeff Wilpon, the Mets’ chief operating officer, said in a statement released by the team. “This was not an easy decision. Considering the circumstances, it became clear to all parties that it was not in anyone’s best interest for Carlos to move forward as Manager of the New York Mets.”
In the same statement, Beltran said he was grateful for the opportunity the Mets had given him but that he agreed the decision was in the team’s best interest. “I couldn’t let myself be a distraction for the team,” he said. “I wish the entire organization success in the future.”
Beltran met with Wilpon and Brodie Van Wagenen, the general manager, on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. In stepping down, Beltran spared the team the burden of dismissing or suspending him on their own, even before he had held his first practice.
After Major League Baseball published its scathing report on Houston’s sign-stealing scheme on Monday, the Astros fired General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch, and the Red Sox announced the next day that they were parting ways with Alex Cora, who was an Astros bench coach in 2017 and was implicated in M.L.B.’s report.
Those decisive steps increased pressure on the Mets. Unlike Hinch and Cora, Beltran was immune from punishment by the league because he was a player when the scheme was first implemented in 2017. But he was the only Astros player named in the report because he was a central figure in conceiving the scheme, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation who requested anonymity to discuss details that had not been made public.
On Thursday, Beltran became the fourth person to lose his job over the sign-stealing scandal. And with a month to go before spring training, the Mets are one of three teams, along with the Astros and Red Sox, without a manager.
The Mets hired Beltran on Nov. 1, giving him his first job as a coach or manager after a standout 20-year career as a player. But less than two weeks later, a report in The Athletic revealed that starting in 2017, when Beltran was an outfielder for the Astros, the team had coordinated a cheating operation to illicitly steal opposing teams’ signs using video feeds and then communicate them to their own batters.
M.L.B.’s subsequent investigation determined that the primary figures in designing the operation were Beltran and Cora. Beltran, however, was not suspended, because M.L.B. decided not to punish any of the players. That left him a loophole: He had committed the infractions on another team and not been punished, so he was technically free to manage.
But it would have appeared awkward for him to do so while Cora and Hinch — who lost his job for doing far less than Beltran did — had both been suspended and fired.
While the Mets said in their statement on Thursday that they believed Beltran had been “honest and forthcoming” with them, Beltran told The New York Post in November that he had not been involved in the Astros’ scheme. That was contradicted by M.L.B.’s report, which said that Beltran was at least a consultant in the affair.
“Approximately two months into the 2017 season, a group of players, including Carlos Beltran, discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams’ signs and communicating the signs to the batter,” the report said.
Although M.L.B. did not punish any players, its report seemed to carve out a special status for Beltran as the only player named — even though many other Astros players were either involved in the scheme or aware of it.
And Beltran was more than just a typical player. He turned 40 in 2017, his final season of a 20-year career that was widely seen as worthy of Hall of Fame consideration when he becomes eligible in 2022.
Beltran, who spent the 2019 season as a special adviser with the Yankees, was also known as an expert at stealing signs through the more traditional, and legal, methods — without the assistance of electronics. Those include spying on catchers while on the basepaths and then relaying their signals to the batter with subtle gestures.
He was an influential and respected leader on the Astros, almost like a player-coach. When his name surfaced last autumn as a candidate to manage, many in baseball were intrigued by his potential as a manager. During the search process, he declared that the only team he was interested in managing was the Mets, the team for which he started from 2005 until 2011. He achieved that goal, but three months later he was forced to step away.
“We are confident that this will not be the final chapter in his baseball career,” the Mets said in their statement on Thursday. “We remain excited about the talent on this team and are committed to reaching our goals of winning now and in the future.”