Baseball's current landscape makes it hard to not think about Carlos Beltrán. Take a look this way, and two of the franchises Beltrán played for (the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets) are seeking new managers. Take a look that way, and two teams that his legacy will forever be linked with (the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox) are playing for the American League pennant.
Beltrán disappeared from the public eye after resigning his post as Mets skipper in early 2020 after he was named by Major League Baseball as one of the supposed ringleaders in the Astros sign-stealing scandal. Beltrán wasn't officially punished -- none of the players on the 2017 Astros were -- yet he's been ostracized in a way that those who were punished largely haven't been.
- Then-Astros skipper AJ Hinch now manages the Detroit Tigers. The belief around the league is that Hinch has more input on personnel and staffing decisions than his peers. In other words, the Tigers have entrusted the reins to someone who wouldn't put his foot down against his last team's cheating.
- Alex Cora is once again managing the Red Sox, the other franchise punished for improper video use in 2020. That Cora also had links to the Astros didn't seem to make much of a difference to anyone, for whatever reason. Cora, like Hinch, was suspended for the shortened 2020 season by MLB.
- Former Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow hasn't been heard from since January, when he was reportedly interested in purchasing a Mexican soccer team. Luhnow's situation is arguably more sticky than the others, given he sued the Astros for breach of contract. (The two sides have since "resolved" their differences.) He is, in a sense, the nuclear option for a team seeking a GM.
- The league has shown a willingness to reward other former Astros players. George Springer signed a massive free-agent contract with the Toronto Blue Jays last winter, and Carlos Correa is primed to do the same with some club this offseason. As with the Steroids Era, the league seems OK with moving on -- quickly.
That Beltrán's name hasn't surfaced for managerial posts despite the frenzied pace raises the question: will he ever get a second opportunity?
Cora, for his part, thinks he should.
"It's just a matter of [getting] somebody to talk to him [about a managerial opening], go through the process and see what happens. But if somebody gave him a chance [previously] to become a big-league manager, there's a reason, right?" Cora told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post last week. "Hopefully that happens to him."
When CBS Sports asked league insiders if they believed Beltrán would get a second opportunity in April 2020, they were skeptical of his chances because he lacked Hinch and Cora's track record, as both of them had won World Series titles. "I don't think that he did anything 'more' or 'extra' compared to the others," one said, "but he never got a chance to establish the cred the other two did."
Another added: "I like him and think he should, but I'm doubtful."
Perhaps track record is the sticking point, but it may prove temporary. If the league is willing to hurry past the sign-stealing scandal without a lengthy or genuine reflection period on what happened and how it could happen again, then it only makes sense that Beltrán will resurface in some role or another. Maybe not this winter or next, but one day down the road, he just might get a soft-focus redemption story of his own.