Newly-minted Mets’ manager Carlos Beltran became the latest domino to fall in the wake of MLB’s investigation into the Astros’ sign-stealing operation during the 2017 campaign, stepping down from his post Thursday before ever managing a game in Queens. Beltran is the third manager directly associated with the Astros’ cheating scandal to lose his job in the last week. The Astros fired both GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch on Monday after the release of MLB’s full report on their investigation on Monday. Roughly 24 hours later, the Red Sox and manager Alex Cora, the Astros’ bench coach in 2017, mutually agreed to part ways. According to a joint statement released by the Mets and Beltran on Thursday afternoon, the two sides mutually agreed to part ways.
“This was not an easy decision,” said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and GM Brodie Van Wagenen in that statement. “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 that Carlos was honest and forthcoming with us. We are confident that this will not be the final chapter in his baseball career.
Beltran, who played the final season of his 20-year big-league career with the Astros in 2017, was the lone current (or former) player named in MLB’s report. He will not face any formal discipline, since he was an active player at the time of the sign-stealing operation. However, his direct involvement in a scheme, which involved using video equipment to decode opposing teams' signs and banging on trash cans to relay them to Astros' hitters, cast serious doubt on whether he should remain at the helm in New York moving forward. The 42-year-old signed a three-year contract, which also included a fourth-year option, back in November after serving as a special assistant to Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman last season.
With spring training less than a month away, the Mets front office will undergo their second managerial search of the offseason. It would make plenty of sense for the franchise to turn to an internal candidate to fill the sudden vacancy. Hensley Meulens, who was hired as the team’s bench coach in late November after spending a decade as a member of Bruce Bochy’s staff in San Francisco, would be one of the most logical choices to fill the void. Mets’ quality control coach Luis Rojas, who has been with the organization since 2006, and former manager Terry Collins -- currently a special advisor to Van Wagenen -- could also be in the mix as well. Regardless of the course the Mets ultimately chart, they’ll need to move quickly.
Astros Managerial Search Underway
Speaking of managerial openings, the Astros have already kicked off their efforts to replace AJ Hinch, who was fired earlier this week. According to Ken Rosenthal and Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic, the Astros interviewed Buck Showalter for their managerial opening on Wednesday. The general thought has been that the Astros will go the quick-and-easy route and elevate an internal candidate, but an alternative would be to bring in an experienced veteran manager who is not currently tied to any team. Showalter, who has two decades of managerial experience with four different organizations, certainly would fit the bill there. Current Astros bench coach Joe Espada, who interviewed for several managerial openings this offseason, has been pegged as the favorite to assume the reins in Houston, but he’s not the only candidate on their radar screen at the moment.
MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reported Wednesday that Espada, Bruce Bochy, Dusty Baker (and Showalter) are also under consideration. However, Rosenthal reported on Thursday that Bochy, who won three World Series titles during his 13-year stint with the Giants, “does not plan to pursue any of the current managerial openings.” In addition to those potential candidates, Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston reported Wednesday that former Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons will also interview for the open position this week. Meanwhile, the Cubs have reportedly granted the Astros permission to interview Will Venable as well. According to McTaggart, the Astros would like to fill both their manager and general manager openings by early February and the team is expected to hire a manager first. Stay tuned.
American League Quick Hits: Red Sox acquired LHP Jeffrey Springs from the Rangers in exchange for 1B/OF Sam Travis … White Sox signed RHP Bryan Mitchell to a minor league contract … White Sox signed INF/OF Andrew Romine to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Astros sent RHP Dean Deetz outright to Triple-A Round Rock … Red Sox sent infielder Marco Hernandez outright to Triple-A Pawtucket and designated LHP Bobby Poyner for assignment.
National League Quick Hits: Braves re-signed infielder Adeiny Hechavarria to a one-year, $1 million contract … Giants signed LHP Drew Smyly to a one-year contract … Marlins acquired LHP Stephen Tarpley from the Yankees for INF James Nelson and cash considerations … Braves signed INF/OF Yangervis Solarte to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Padres signed RHP Jerad Eickhoff to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Nationals signed OF Mac Williamson to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Diamondbacks claimed INF Pat Valaika off waivers from the Orioles … Dodgers designated RHP Casey Sadler for assignment … Phillies sent OF Odubel Herrera outright to Triple-A Lehigh Valley … Giants released INF Zack Cozart.