While he was involved in the Houston Astros’ 2017 cheating scandal, Carlos Beltran has gotten a raw deal from Major League Baseball. He was the only player specifically named in the report. It led to him getting fired as Mets manager before the 2020 season even started. AJ Hinch and Alex Cora also lost their respective jobs. However, they landed on their feet virtually immediately after a one-year suspension.
Beltran has been working for the YES Network, seemingly waiting for the right opportunity to join a team again. New York considered him for the assistant hitting coach job when filling out Buck Showalter’s coaching staff last year, but it didn’t work out. About a year later, the former center fielder and future Hall of Famer is back in Queens.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported on Sunday that Beltran was leaving his gig at YES for a front-office role under general manager Billy Eppler. At the time of this report, it was unknown exactly what Beltran’s role would be. That’s still the case. But now I can’t help but wonder if this move was made with the future in mind.
Do they want him to be Showalter’s successor as manager?
In December 2021, the Mets officially hired Buck to a three-year deal worth $11.25 million. It’s the richest manager contract in franchise history. Showalter earned $3.5 million in 2022. His salary will increase to $3.75 million and $4 million in 2023 and 2024, respectively. At 66 years old, Showalter is among the game’s oldest managers (and the most handsome). We don’t know if there’s any plan beyond this three-year pact, but maybe there is.
It’s possible the veteran skipper wants to keep managing the Mets beyond 2024. Depending on how the next couple of years go, team owner Steve Cohen might be fine with that. Or, Buck’s current contract is acting as a last hurrah of sorts before he retires.
While we don’t know yet what Beltran will be doing, it sure feels like this is the first step to him getting back in the dugout. A lot has changed in Flushing since he was last named manager three years ago. Being in the front office can give the former outfielder an opportunity to see how the organization is now run from top to bottom.
Not having a defined role can also allow him to have his hand in many things. That’d help him get the kind of experience and familiarity with the club any front office would ideally want. I wouldn’t be surprised if Beltran shifted from the front office to the dugout ahead in 2024, either.
But then again, there’s another former player on the coaching staff who could be getting groomed as the Mets’ next manager: Eric Chavez.
The Yankees hired Chavez on December 22, 2021 to be their assistant hitting coach. But just over two weeks later, the Mets hired him as their head hitting coach. After one year in that role, New York promoted him to Showalter’s bench coach for 2023.
Chavez had some minor-league coaching experience, but 2022 was his first taste of coaching in the majors. Now, he gets to be attached to Showalter’s hip every night this season. That should act as a masterclass in managing from the four-time Manager of the Year.
New York’s hiring of Beltran could have a direct correlation to him getting back in the dugout after the Astros scandal. Based on how the Mets have handled and promoted Chavez, they must think he has potential as a skipper in the near future, too.
A lot of this could hinge on how the next two seasons go for Showalter and the direction in which the franchise wants to go. Regardless of what the future holds, the Mets have some excellent baseball minds in the organization who could take the reins whenever the time comes.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.