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Mets choose Carlos Beltran for manager's position

Carlos Beltran talks at batting practice in Game

Carlos Beltran talks at batting practice in Game 2 of the ALCS on Oct. 13 at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

In searching for a new manager, the Mets decided on one of their own: Carlos Beltran.

Beltran,  a nine-time All-Star who spent about half of his 20-year career playing in New York, is returning to the Mets as manager. The club announced his hiring on Friday night.

Although he has never managed or coached at any level, Beltran is highly regarded for his baseball acumen, was a candidate for the Yankees’ manager job after the 2017 season and had worked as a special adviser for the Yankees since December.

In picking Beltran, the Mets found someone who has extensive experience in the market, knows how to handle the media, is bilingual, can bridge the divide between Americans and Latino players that often exists in clubhouses, and is acutely aware of the challenges sometimes presented by working for the Mets.

For the Mets, this hire is historic. Beltran, a native of Puerto Rico, will be the first  Latino manager in franchise history.

For Beltran, 42, this marks a return to the organization for which he is an all-time great. After signing a seven-year, $119 million contract, he played for the Mets from 2005-11, making it to five All-Star Games and winning three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers before getting traded to the Giants for Zack Wheeler in July 2011. He publicly feuded with ownership toward the end of his time in Queens -- he had knee surgery performed without the club's approval --  but he has insisted in recent weeks that he is leaving the past in the past and that those disagreements weren’t relevant to his quest to get this job.

If and when he gets voted into Cooperstown, Beltran has said in the past, he might don a Mets logo on his cap.

“I feel personally that my numbers with the Mets [were] the best numbers that I put up with any team,” Beltran told Newsday in August. “Even though we didn’t win anything, I feel like I did my part.”

His playing career — which brought him to the Yankees from 2014-16 — ended with a World Series championship with the Astros in 2017. Beltran quickly was pegged by those in the industry as a future manager if he wanted to be, and he said last month that he turned down chances to interview for the Cubs and Padres’ openings, noting that he wanted to stay in New York.

And so ends the Mets’ manager search, which began officially on Oct. 3, when chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen flew to Florida to fire Mickey Callaway. Van Wagenen, looking to hire his first manager after inheriting Callaway a year ago, promised a thorough and deliberate process — and delivered.

The Mets brought in at least 10 candidates for in-person interviews, slowly paring that list through two additional rounds of such meetings. Beltran and ESPN analyst Eduardo Perez were the final two candidates, reports earlier Friday said.

“I would like to thank the Mets for the incredible opportunity to have interviewed for the managerial position,” Perez, who also has lived in Puerto Rico for much of his life, tweeted Friday. “That being said, I am even prouder that @CarlosBeltran15 is going to be the next manager of the @Mets.”

Twins bench coach Derek Shelton and Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy reportedly also made it to the last round, a sitdown with owner Fred Wilpon.  Now-Phillies manager Joe Girardi, Mets quality-control coach Luis Rojas, Nationals infield/first-base coach Tim Bogar, Padres first-base coach Skip Schumaker and Diamondbacks vice president of player development Mike Bell were involved earlier in the process.

Even after getting burned by Callaway’s underwhelming tenure as a first-timer in that role — 163-161 over two seasons, with the Mets falling short of the postseason each time — the Mets did not value major-league managerial experience during this process. Excluding interim stints for a couple of the names above, the only known candidate who had been a manager in the majors before was Girardi, who led the Marlins for a season and the Yankees for a decade. Philadelphia hired him last week and introduced him Monday.

Instead, Van Wagenen looked at baseball lifers with a variety of career paths, holding true to his word to consider “outside-the-box” options. He was one of them a year ago, when the Wilpons hired Jacob deGrom’s agent to be the Mets’ baseball operations head.

“Congratulations to Carlos. We are thrilled, as we know our passionate fans will be, to have him back in the family,” Jeff Wilpon said in a statement. “Thanks to Brodie and the entire baseball operations staff on this expansive, diverse and collaborative managerial search process.”

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