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Beltran resigns as Mets manager in wake of MLB sign-stealing scandal

Carlos Beltran

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The fallout from Major League Baseball’s investigation of illegal electronic sign-stealing claimed a fourth victim Thursday when Carlos Beltran stepped down as manager of the New York Mets.

“Over my 20 years in the game, I’ve always taken pride in being a leader and doing things the right way, and in this situation, I failed,” Beltran said in a statement given to ESPN. “As a veteran player on the team, I should’ve recognized the severity of the issue and truly regret the actions that were taken.

“I am a man of faith and integrity and what took place did not demonstrate those characteristics that are so very important to me and my family. I’m very sorry. It’s not who I am as a father, a husband, a teammate and as an educator. The Mets organization and I mutually agreed to part ways, moving forward for the greater good with no further distractions. I hope that at some point in time, I’ll have the opportunity to return to this game that I love so much.”

Beltran, the only player named in MLB’s investigation of the Houston Astros, leaves without managing one game. He was hired on Nov. 1 to a three-year deal to replace the fired Mickey Callaway.

The Astros fired A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow after MLB released the findings of their investigation and saddled them with one-year suspensions. Red Sox manager Alex Cora resigned on Tuesday.

“We met with Carlos last night and again this morning and agreed to mutually part ways,” Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said in a statement Thursday. “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.

“We believe Carlos was honest and forthcoming with us. We are confident that this will not be the final chapter in his baseball career. We remain excited about the talent on this team and are committed to reaching our goals of winning now and in the future.”

Beltran, one of the great Mets players in the last two decades, was a player on the 2017 Astros and was identified as the one who worked with Cora planning and executing the strategy to electronically steal signs and relay them to hitters.

Beltran was a nine-time All-Star during a 20-year major league career. He spent 2018 as a special advisor to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

The Mets had remained eerily silent about Beltran while news began to break about Hinch and Cora. Beltran was highly regarded and its fair to say the Mets were hoping they’d be getting a clone of Cora in the dugout.

In a conference call with the media on Thursday, Van Wagenen said the Mets were not aware of the developing Astros situation, specifically how it involved Beltran, until Nov. 12 when the story about the Astros use of electronics to steal signs was broken by The Athletic. At that point, the Mets informed Beltran they wanted him to fully cooperate with the MLB investigation and he told them he would.

“Following that report, we spoke to MLB and deferred to them to lead the investigation,” Van Wagenen said. “On Monday, the results were released. As an organization we strongly believe in fair competition and its importance in professional sports. We appreciate MLB’s investigation, findings and decisions.”

On Wednesday, the Mets met with members of the commissioner’s office in Manhattan to understand more about Beltran’s role in the sign-stealing scheme. Then Van Wagenen and Mets owner Jeff Wilpon flew to Port St. Lucie, Fla. (the Mets spring training site) to meet with Beltran, who was there meeting with his coaches.

“We met with Carlos again this morning (Thursday) and came to this difficult conclusion,” Van Wagenen said. “In talking to Carlos it was clear how challenging it was going to be for him to effectively manage the team moving forward.”

The Mets said they saw no point in allowing Beltran to ride out the storm and continue as their manager.

“When we met with Carlos we had assessed where do we go from here,” Van Wagenen said. “In his thought process, and ours, we agreed that it would be incredibly difficult to do the job in the way he intended and could rely upon the best of his abilities.”

While it’s important to recall that Beltran was not disciplined by MLB, he did intially deny any involvement in the scheme.

“We took a lot of pride studying pitchers in the computer — that is the only technology that I use and I understand,” Beltrán said at that time. “It was fun seeing guys get to the ballpark to look for little details … I don’t call that cheating.”

Like the Astros and the Red Sox, the Mets begin an immediate search for a new manager with pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Spring Training in about a month. Mets quality control coach Luis Rojas and current ESPN analyst Eduardo Perez are likely under consideration. The Astros reportedly interviewed veteran managers John Gibbons and Buck Showalter.