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The Mets philosophy that could doom Carlos Beltran

Is Mets jersey No. 15 about to become available again for whomever in the organization wants it?

The next potential domino in the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing caper on Wednesday was Carlos Beltran, who remained in limbo as Mets officials attempted to determine their next move.

Beltran, who played for the Astros in 2017 and was named in commissioner Rob Manfred’s report this week as a player involved in the sign-stealing — which involved electronic surveillance — could become the third manager to lose his job because of the scheme. Astros manager A.J. Hinch was fired by owner Jim Crane on Monday after receiving a one-year suspension from Manfred. A day later, Alex Cora, the Astros’ bench coach in 2017 who was implicated in the scandal, was forced out as Red Sox manager. Also fired was Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, after he had received a one-year suspension from Manfred.

A Mets source indicated “integrity” is a buzzword within the organization that is often preached, and Beltran’s involvement in the illegal sign-stealing may have alienated the club’s public-relations conscious owners, Fred Wilpon and Jeff Wilpon, to the point of no return. Team officials have remained mum on Beltran’s status, though Jeff Wilpon is scheduled to participate in a media event Thursday in Port St. Lucie, Fla., where a street outside the club’s spring training ballpark will be renamed in honor of Mike Piazza.

Manfred’s report indicated Astros players stole catchers’ signs through a video hookup that included a monitor positioned near the home dugout at Minute Maid Park. Batters were alerted to what type of pitch was coming by a teammate banging on a trash can. The electronic sign-stealing was determined to have occurred even after a memo issued by the Commissioner’s Office in September 2017 warned that violators would be disciplined. The Astros won the World Series the following month, beating the Dodgers in seven games. Beltran retired after the season and left the game for a year before becoming a special assistant with the Yankees for 2019. Beltran was the only player named by Manfred in his report.

In his only public comments about the matter, at the GM meetings in November, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen indicated Beltran’s link to the electronic sign-stealing wasn’t a Mets issue.

“Anything that happened, happened with another organization, with Houston,” Van Wagenen said. “I have no idea if anything did or did not, but at this point I don’t see any reason why this is a Mets situation.”

It is unclear whether the Mets would be on the hook for paying Beltran the entirety of his three-year contract if he’s fired or if a clause in the deal would provide immunity for the club. If the Mets were responsible for his salary, the team would be paying three managers in 2020: Mickey Callaway was fired with a year remaining on his deal, and the new hire would be a third contract.

Beltran has been in Port St. Lucie with his coaches this week to make preparations for the start of spring training on Feb. 10, when pitchers and catchers will report.

If Beltran is fired, potential candidates for the job would include bench coach Hensley Meulens, who was a candidate for the Yankees’ managerial vacancy when Aaron Boone was hired two years ago. But Van Wagenen could also look toward his list of finalists from October, which included ESPN analyst Eduardo Perez and Nationals first base coach Tim Bogar. Other possibilities would include Kevin Long and Joe McEwing, both of whom were finalists for the job when Callaway got hired in 2017. Internally, the Mets could promote quality control coach Luis Rojas or first-base coach Tony DeFrancesco, both of whom were considered in October for the managerial opening.