Carlos Beltrán, two years removed from his playing career and with no managerial experience, has been picked by the New York Mets to replace Mickey Callaway.
Beltrán received a three-year contract that includes a club option for 2023. The Mets announced the move Friday.
A nine-time All-Star during 20 major league seasons, Beltrán played for the Mets from 2005-11.
He interviewed to become New York Yankees manager after the 2017 season, when Aaron Boone was hired, and spent this season as an adviser to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.
“At the beginning it’s a little bit overwhelming. There’s a lot of information that you have to digest,” Beltran said after he was interviewed by the Yankees two years ago. “Being a player and being able to play this game for such a long time, I have seen a lot, and I have seen the importance of what players need in the clubhouse.”
The 42-year-old Beltrán becomes the first minority to fill one of the eight major league manager vacancies this offseason. Those jobs filled are: the Chicago Cubs (David Ross), Kansas City (Mike Matheny), the Los Angeles Angels (Joe Maddon), Philadelphia (Joe Girardi) and San Diego (Jayce Tingler). Pittsburgh and San Francisco remain open.
Callaway was hired by then-general manager Sandy Alderson and led New York to a disappointing 77-85 record in his first season. Brodie Van Wagenen replaced Alderson as GM and proclaimed the Mets favorite to win the NL East. But New York fell to 41-51 with a loss in its first game following the All-Star break and could climb only to the periphery of the wild-card race before finishing 86-76, third in the division behind Atlanta and World Series champion Washington.
“Congratulations to Carlos. We are thrilled, as we know our passionate fans will be, to have him back in the family,” Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said in a statement. “Thanks to Brodie and the entire baseball operations staff on this expansive, diverse and collaborative managerial search process.”
Beltrán will be the fourth current manager born in Puerto Rico, joining Boston’s Alex Cora, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo and Washington’s Dave Martinez.
He signed a $119 million, seven-year contract with the Mets in January 2005 and helped them win the NL East in 2006, but he took a called third strike with the bases loaded against Adam Wainwright, ending New York’s 3-1 loss to St. Louis in Game 7 of the 2006 NL Championship Series.
Beltrán got into a flap with Mets management in January 2010 when he had surgery on his right knee without their approval. Beltrán went to Colorado to be examined by Dr. Richard Steadman, who operated. Assistant general manager John Ricco said at the time the team wanted to discuss Steadman’s diagnosis and possibly seek a third opinion but was never given the opportunity.
With New York out of contention in 2011, the Mets traded Beltrán to San Francisco that July for pitcher Zack Wheeler.
Beltrán finished with a .279 average, 435 home runs, 1,587 RBIs and 312 stolen bases for Kansas City (1998-04), Houston (2004, 2017), the Mets (2005-11), San Francisco (2011), St. Louis (2012-13), the Yankees (2014-16) and Texas (2016).
NOTES: The Mets declined their $9.5 million option for 2020 on outfielder Juan Lagares, who will receive a $500,000 buyout and become a free agent. The option was part of a five-year contract that guaranteed $23,553,696. Lagares hit .213 this year with five homers and 27 RBIs in 258 at-bats. New York also said infielder Joe Panik and left-hander Donnie Hart declined outright assignments to Triple-A Syracuse and elected to become free agents.
— Mike Fitzpatrick