The thought of Carlos Beltrán managing the KC Royals is intriguing. One of many stars the club traded away or watched leave for free agency because it wouldn’t pay to keep them, Beltrán was sorely missed as soon as the Royals shipped him to Houston in the June 2004 three-team deal that brought Mark Teahen, Mike Wood, John Buck and some cash to Kansas City.
Because he so quickly became (and remains) a franchise icon, Beltrán was gone, but never forgotten. He broke in quietly with the Royals in 1998 with a respectable .276 average in 14 games, then exploded with 22 home runs, 108 RBIs, 27 steals and .293 average in 1999, numbers that made him one of only four Royals ever to be named American League Rookie of the Year.
In all, Beltrán played parts of seven seasons for Kansas City and hit 123 homers, drove in 516 runs, stole 164 bases and slashed .287/.352/.483. And he finished his 20-year big league career with 435 homers, nearly 1,600 RBIs, a .279 average, and a .350 OBP. KC fans clamored for a reunion every time he became a free agent, but it never happened.
Now, five years removed from his last game, could a return to Kauffman Stadium, this time as manager, be in the cards for Beltrán?
Carlos Beltrán might become the KC Royals’ manager, but now isn’t the time.
That Beltrán’s name is bandied about in the media as a potential candidate to replace Mike Matheny as Kansas City’s manager (we even placed him in that category before the All-Star Break) isn’t surprising, especially given the fact the Mets hired him as their skipper for the 2020 season.
But he never managed for New York. Soon swallowed up by the infamous Astros cheating scandal as the lone Houston player identified by name in the Commissioner’s investigation report, he and the Mets parted ways before spring training began.
The scandal also interrupted the careers of Astros manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora, who’d moved on to manage the Red Sox. Both found themselves without jobs and suspended for a season. But unlike Hinch, who now manages Detroit, and Cora, who returned to skipper the Red Sox, there has been no second chance for Beltrán.
Baseball being the frequently forgiving entity that it is, Beltrán is bound to get that chance eventually; whether the Royals will be the organization to provide it remains to be seen.
But past, and potential present and future, repercussions of the scandal where Beltrán is concerned aren’t the only things Kansas City must weigh carefully if they’re considering him to take Matheny’s place. Beltrán’s lack of experience, not only as a manager but also in a big league dugout in any capacity other than a player, is glaring—he hasn’t managed or served as a coach.
Scandal or no scandal, this isn’t the time for General Manager J.J. Picollo to pick someone so short on relevant experience to manage his team. Yes, Beltrán is known for his leadership skills and baseball mind, but these Royals, so inexperienced themselves and struggling to find their way, need a battle-tested manager who’s run, or helped run, a major league ballclub, and been responsible for developing young players. Beltrán may check those boxes someday, but he doesn’t now.
That’s why Picollo’s search shouldn’t stop with him.
The time isn’t right for Carlos Beltrán to manage the Royals.