Carlos Beltran steps down as New York Mets manager over 'sign-stealing' role

Carlos Beltran speaks at his unveiling as New York Mets manager
Carlos Beltran retired from playing after winning the 2017 World Series with the Astros

Carlos Beltran has stepped down as New York Mets manager because of his role in the "sign-stealing" scandal during his time as a Houston Astros player.

Former outfielder Beltran, 42, won the 2017 World Series with the Astros.

He was named in a Major League Baseball (MLB) report that found Houston illegally used a camera to steal signs from catchers to pitchers that season.

Beltran was not punished as he was a player at the time but has now left the Mets before taking charge of a game.

"We agreed this decision is in the best interest of the team," said Beltran, who was appointed in November.

"I couldn't let myself be a distraction for the team. I wish the entire organisation success in the future."

Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilson and general manager Brodie van Wagenen said the team and Beltran had "agreed to mutually part ways".

"It became clear to all parties that it was not in anyone's best interest for Carlos to move forward as manager," they added in a statement.

"We believe that Carlos was honest and forthcoming with us and we are confident that this will not be the final chapter in his baseball career."

MLB suspended Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch for a year without pay for their role in the scandal, and the pair were subsequently fired by team owner Jim Crane.

The Astros were also fined $5m (£3.8m), and made to surrender draft picks.

The Boston Red Sox sacked manager Alex Cora on Wednesday after the investigation found he played a key role in the sign-stealing during his time as the Astros bench coach.

Cora subsequently managed the Red Sox to a World Series victory in 2018 and the team are subject to a separate MLB investigation that they used video replays to steal signs during that season.

What is 'sign stealing'?

It happens when teams monitor what finger signs a catcher is using to request specific deliveries - such as a fastball, curveball or slider - from his pitcher.

MLB rules prohibit the use of electronic equipment to steal signs but otherwise the practice, while frowned upon, is not against the rules.

A report in The Athletic claimed the Astros would monitor catchers' signals via a camera in the outfield, before banging on a rubbish bin inside the clubhouse to signal to the batter that an off-speed pitch was expected.

A subsequent story, also in The Athletic, alleged that Boston players had visited their video replay room, before relaying information to team-mates on the field.

Back in September 2017, the Red Sox were fined by MLB for using an Apple Watch to steal signs from the New York Yankees.

After that incident, MLB issued a specific warning to all 30 teams over technology.