Carlos Beltran, the former All-Star center fielder who played seven seasons for the Mets but is also remembered for striking out on the cusp of a trip to the World Series, has been named the team’s new manager.
The Mets plan to announce Beltran’s hiring next week, according to a person familiar with the decision, ending a search that began after they fired Mickey Callaway in October after a second consecutive year without making the playoffs. Born in Puerto Rico, Beltran will be the team’s first Latino manager.
Beltran, 42, played for the Mets from 2005 to 2011 before a mid-season trade. He was a five-time All-Star with the Mets, earning three Gold Gloves. He also played for Kansas City, Houston, San Francisco, St. Louis, Texas and the Yankees, collecting four more All-Star appearances.
While Beltran was one of the best players in baseball during his Mets years, many fans in New York still remember him for one of the more iconic, and painful, moments in the team’s recent history. Striding to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series, Beltran struck out on three pitches against St. Louis reliever Adam Wainwright to end the series. The final pitch, a devastating curveball, caught him with the bat on his shoulder, sending the Cardinals to the World Series and the Mets home for the winter.
He joined the San Francisco Giants in 2011, then the Cardinals, the Yankees and the Texas Rangers before retiring from the Houston Astros in 2017. It was his second tenure with the team, and he ended his playing career just over a month after he capped his 20th major-league season by finally winning a World Series.
He promptly interviewed for — and failed to get — the Yankees’ managerial job after his retirement. He has spent the last year as a special assistant to Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman. He will take over the Mets despite having no previous experience in a managing or coaching role in the majors or the minor leagues. Callaway also had no previous managerial experience when he was hired, but had been a pitching coach.
As a Yankees special assistant, Beltran wrote scouting reports and counseled young players. He is bilingual, making it easier for him to connect with Spanish-speaking players and ensure that messages are not lost in translation. There are now five Latino managers in Major League Baseball, the most since 2004, and about 30 percent of the players are Latino.
Beltran will inherit a group of players that includes the slugger Pete Alonso, who set the rookie home run record this past season, pitcher Jacob DeGrom, the 2018 Cy Young winner, and the versatile Jeff McNeil.
Callaway was fired days after the season ended after finishing 163-161 in his two years as manager. The Mets finished the 2019 season with a 86-76 record and failed to make the playoffs for the 11th time in 13 seasons, despite a second-half resurgence.
Callaway had one season left on his three-year contract. This is the first manager hired by General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen since he took over in 2018.
Although Van Wagenen had offered support for Callaway throughout the season’s ups and downs, Van Wagenen made it clear what he was looking for in his first managerial search.
“Strong leadership and someone who is able to continue to collaborate and take all of the available resources that we have and help us find additional resources that can put us another step forward in 2020,” Van Wagenen said after Callaway was dismissed.
Beltran will need to hire a bench coach as well as a new pitching coach after the team fired former coach Dave Eiland in June. Phil Regan, 82, served as the interim coach for the remainder of the season.
Eduardo Perez, an ESPN analyst and the son of Hall of Famer Tony Perez, was the other finalist for the position. In a tweet, Perez thanked the Mets for the opportunity to interview for the position and showed support for Beltran.
James Wagner and Kevin Armstrong contributed reporting.