Mets Didn't Question Beltran About Astros Cheating Until After MLB Report Released

GM Says Team Knew Nothing About It When Manager Hired

Ryan Chatelain
January 16, 2020 - 5:01 pm

The Mets say they had no knowledge of Carlos Beltran's involvement in the Astros' cheating scandal when they hired him as manager and they chose not to ask him about it in the two months that followed after the scheme was first exposed.

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The team announced Thursday that it and Beltran have mutually parted ways. The divorce came three days after an MLB report named Beltran as a participant in the sign-stealing scheme during the Astros' 2017 World Series-winning season, his last year as a player.

On a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon chronicled the timeline that led up to Beltran's ouster and attempted to explain their thinking throughout the process.

They were repeatedly pressed on why they didn't earlier ask Beltran about his role in the scheme, which involved using a center-field camera to steal signs from opposing catchers and relay them to batters by beating on a trash can near the dugout. 

Carlos Beltran talks after being introduced by General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen, right, during a press conference at Citi Field on November 4, 2019 in New York City.
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Beltran was hired Nov. 1. "At that time, we were unaware of the Astros situation," Van Wagenen said Thursday.

On Nov. 12, The Athletic was the first to report on the Houston scandal. The website later reported that Beltran was a key part of the scheme, although MLB's report this week did not indicate Beltran, while the only player named, was any more involved than other Astros. 

Instead of interviewing Beltran about his involvement, the Mets deferred to MLB to investigate. 

"We wanted to steer clear and allow the commissioner's office to do their investigation without any interference from us," Wilpon said. 

The team said it only asked Beltran to fully cooperate with the MLB probe.

Despite the previous report by The Athletic, Van Wagenen said the team was surprised to see Beltran's name in the MLB report Monday. After it was released, the Mets met with the commissioner's office to learn more about Beltran's role, although Van Wagenen declined to discuss specifically what was revealed.

"We heard from sources -- commissioner's office, etc. -- that Carlos was not going to be suspended," Wilpon said. "I think the change was when the report did come out how prominent he was in it."

After meeting with Major League Baseball, Van Wagenen and Wilpon flew to the team's facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and spoke with Beltran on Wednesday and then again Thursday morning. 

"I think that when we met with Carlos, we had to make an assessment of, where do we go from here?" Van Wagenen said. "And in Carlos' thought process, as well as ours, we both agreed that it was going to be incredibly challenging and incredibly difficult to do the job in the way in which he intended and the way in which he could utilize the best of his abilities."

Now for the second time in about three months, the Mets are searching for a manager. Van Wagenen said they hope to have a new skipper in place "in the near future" and indicated the current coaching staff will remain in place. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report for spring training Feb. 12. 

"Having just gone through this process, we have a number of qualified internal and external candidates who we will be considering," Van Wagenen said. 

"I don't think the values that we're looking for have changed," the general manager added. "This team is one that we believe in. This team is one that we believe can contend, and we want to make sure that we have the right support system around them to make sure their success."