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Mets agree to part ways with manager Carlos Beltran

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Carlos Beltran, the only player named in MLB’s investigation of the Houston Astros‘ sign-stealing scandal, is out as manager of the New York Mets before beginning his first season with the team, it was announced Thursday.

“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 is the third manager to lose his job in the fallout from the investigation. The Astros fired A.J. Hinch after the report was issued, and the Boston Red Sox parted with Alex Cora after he admitted to wrongdoing while with the Astros.

“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.”

The scheme devised by the Astros involved using trash cans and video cameras to send out signals to hitters. No player received any discipline from MLB for the sign-stealing scheme, but Beltran was the only one to be named.

“Approximately two months into the 2017 season, a group of players, including Carlos Beltrán, discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams’ signs and communicating the signs to the batter,” said MLB’s report, which was issued Monday.

The Mets signed Beltran on Nov. 1 to a three-year deal with an option for a fourth season. It was to be his first job as a major league manager.

Beltran is not the first MLB manager to be let go before ever filling out a lineup card. In 2004, the Arizona Diamondbacks fired Wally Backman four days after he was introduced as the team’s manager because of legal difficulties he did not disclose to them.

A nine-time All-Star during 20 major league seasons, Beltran finished his major league career with the Astros in 2017 and spent 2019 as an adviser to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

Beltran, 42, played for the Mets from 2005 to 2011.

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Similar to NFL officials, MLB umpires could get mic’d up

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NEW YORK — Big league players, managers and fans might be hearing a lot more from umpires this season.

Much like NFL referees have done for years, umpires could be mic’d up and announce whether reviewed calls are upheld or overturned, sources told ESPN’s Pedro Gomez. They may also explain rules, if necessary.

Major League Baseball and the umpires are actively discussing the possibility. If the technical aspects can be worked out and the umps are comfortable with the concept, they could be mic’d up sometime this year — both sides say there’s lots of work to do, making it uncertain whether this could be in place by opening day on March 26.

“I feel like getting more information on replay reviews would be great. Being able to hear what they see/say about the play will provide a better explanation of the call which will be very beneficial for both sides,” Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Stephen Vogt said.

The NFL and NHL have their referees announce the results of replay reviews. In the NBA, the arena public address announcers relay decisions.

Baseball fans have become familiar with seeing crew chiefs such as Joe West, Ted Barrett and Tom Hallion take off the headsets and signal the ruling from replay center in New York _ either indicating a player is out or safe, or perhaps pointing to where a runner should go.

Under the innovation, an umpire might tell everyone at the park whether a challenged call is confirmed, stands or is reversed. It is not known whether there would be any additional explanation of a ruling beyond the basics.

“It will be helpful to the fans, which is good,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “Sometimes they’re left in the dark as with what is being challenged.”

In the NFL and NHL, the referee is apart from the players when he speaks. MLB likely will want to be sure umps turn off their microphones for any disputes that might result.

“Well, sounds like players might be picked up on the umps’ mic,” longtime outfielder Rajai Davis texted to the Associated Press. “It wouldn’t affect me personally, but it will other guys.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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How Starling Marte trade turns D-backs into threat to Dodgers’ NL West reign

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It was the one trade everyone has predicted all offseason and it finally happened on Monday: The Pittsburgh Pirates traded outfielder Starling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks for two prospects. The Diamondbacks needed an outfielder, and with the Pirates stuck in the mire of Nowhere Land it was for them to trade a 31-year-old outfielder while he still had two years of team contractual control remaining.

What are the Diamondbacks getting? Other than a subpar 2017, when Marte was suspended 80 games for a positive PED test, he has been a consistent performer at the plate, with an OPS+ ranging between 113 and 120 every other season since 2015. He did set career highs in 2019 in home runs (23) and slugging percentage (.503) thanks to the lively baseball.

Marte is a two-time Gold Glover, with those awards coming in 2015 and 2016 when he primarily played left field. He played center field the past two seasons and he posted the worst defensive metrics of his career in 2019 with minus-9 defensive runs saved. The Statcast numbers, however, are a little more kind to his glove work, crediting him with two outs above average and a high jump rating. Given his speed remains near-elite, Marte reasonably projects as at least an average defender in center field, sandwiched between David Peralta and Kole Calhoun.

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Pirates trade Starling Marte to Diamondbacks for two prospects

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Outfielder Starling Marte was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday for two prospects and $250,000 in international signing bonus pool money.

Marte, 31, has spent his entire eight-year career with the Pirates. He has a career .287 batting average with 108 homers, 420 RBIs and 239 steals. He had career highs last season with 23 homers and 82 RBIs.

Marte won Gold Gloves in 2015 and ’16.

The players going to Pittsburgh are right-handed pitcher Brennan Malone, the 33rd pick in the 2019 draft and shortstop Liover Peguero, a toolsy 19-year-old from the Dominican Republic who excelled in short-season ball.

“We’re excited about adding two young players of this caliber and the opportunity we’ll have to help them continue to grow.” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said in a prepared statement. “In addition, we now have a greater ability to acquire impact-type talent in this year’s international free agent market.”

Arizona was dealing from a farm system that is one of the deepest and best in baseball, along with San Diego’s and Tampa Bay’s.

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