MLB sign-stealing fallout continues as Mets part with manager Beltrán

Carlos Beltrán

The fallout from Major League Baseball’s electronic sign-stealing scandal continues as the New York Mets parted ways with their newly hired manager, Carlos Beltrán. 

Beltrán, just brought on in November after a celebrated 20-year playing career, was one of the named figures earlier this week in MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s report that levied a wide-range of severe discipline on the Houston Astros. Beltrán was playing in final season in 2017 as a member of the Astros, and was identified in the report as one of several team members involved in a scheme to use electronic means to steal opponent signs in violation of league rules. 

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, also formerly with the Astros, was similarly named in the report and then also saw his time with the Red Sox come to an abrupt end. As a result, the departure of Beltrán was widely expected.

“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,” said Brodie Van Wagenen, executive vice president and general manager.

The sign-stealing scandal has now led in total thus far to the exits of Cora and Beltrán, one-year suspensions and subsequent firings for Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch, placement on MLB’s ineligible list for former Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman, the stripping of four Astros draft picks, and a $5m fine to that club. More discipline is expected to be levied upon the Red Sox, still under league investigation for similar alleged offenses during their 2018 championship season.

“As a veteran player on the team, I should’ve recognized the severity of the issue and truly regret the actions that were taken,” Beltrán said. 

No active players have been punished in the scandal. Jeff Wilpon, Mets chief operating officer, said he heard “from sources” that Beltrán wasn’t in line to be disciplined by MLB. But he said the frequent presence of Beltrán in Manfred’s report was too much to bear, and that the decision to part ways was made entirely free of league involvement.

“The change was, when the report did come out, how prominent he was in it,” Wilpon said.

The Mets did not say what was to become of Beltrán’s contract, worth a total of about $3m for the 2020-22 seasons.

Meanwhile, Mets adviser and ESPN broadcaster Jessica Mendoza created an additional firestorm around the sign-stealing issue when she said criticized former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, a key whistleblower in the issue whose comments helped sparked the league probe into the Astros’ conduct. In an ESPN talkshow, said Fiers airing the issue openly was “hard to swallow.”

“To go public, yeah, it didn’t sit well with me,” Mendoza said. “Honestly, it made me sad for the sport that that’s how this all got found out.”

After her take was widely criticized, Mendoza sought to clarify her comments, saying that “cheating the game is something that needs to be addressed.” But she stood by her belief that Fiers should not have spoken to the media about his concerns. 

“I credit Mike Fiers for stepping forward, yet I feel that going directly through your team and/or MLB first could have been a better way to surface the information,” she said. 

Van Wagenen said those comments from Mendoza were made as her speaking as an ESPN employee, and not as a representative of the Mets.