9-time All-Star wants to spend more time with family, manage some day
By Mark Feinsand
Carlos Beltran's last official act as a Major League player was hoisting the World Series trophy for the first time in his career.
And although the 40-year-old is riding off into the sunset as a champion, the Astros' championship was not a factor in his decision to walk away from the game he loves.
The veteran outfielder, who officially announced his retirement Monday in an essay on The Players' Tribune, told MLB.com he reached the verdict to hang up his spikes sometime over the summer, never wavering from that choice during Houston's memorable run.
"At the beginning of this year, being in Houston while my family was in New York, it was the first time I've been away from my family for months," Beltran said in his first interview since announcing his retirement. "I told [my wife] Jessica I really missed the family and I wanted to be with them, so I was really contemplating retirement after this year. I said, 'Hopefully we can get to the World Series and win the World Series, so I can go home on a happy note.'
"When the family came to Houston for the summer, I told Jessica, 'This will be my last year for sure.' I couldn't be away from my family for such a long time anymore."
Beltran got his storybook ending with the Astros' Game 7 victory over the Dodgers, giving him that long-awaited championship that had eluded him for the better part of two decades. Beltran's finest contribution was his clutch double in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the AL Division Series vs. the Red Sox, which helped Houston clinch the series.
What now for Beltran? He is looking forward to spending time with his family in New York, where his two daughters attend school, though he knows he wants to manage in the Majors someday.
"As a family, we're looking forward to spending time together, traveling, enjoying ourselves and doing things with our kids," Beltran said. "At the same time, I've told Jessica that at some point in my career, I would love to have the opportunity to manage."
The 2017 season had been a different one for Beltran, a nine-time All-Star who had been an everyday player for the bulk of his first 18 full seasons. The Astros signed him to be their primary DH, though as the season progressed, his playing time decreased.
That didn't minimize Beltran's significance to the Astros, whose core was comprised of young players who lacked the wisdom and experience of their elder statesman. As George Springer struggled through the American League Championship Series, he relied on Beltran's advice to help him stay focused. Springer responded with a huge World Series, earning MVP honors as Houston captured its first title, giving Beltran plenty of credit along the way.
"As a player, you get to a point where you're pursuing this goal every year and you know how hard it is to accomplish that," Beltran said. "This year was different for me; by the end of the season, I didn't play as much. I was very active with the guys in the clubhouse, working with the younger players, so I got to see a different side of the game. It was a different role, but I really enjoyed it.
"I told Jessica, 'If I win the World Series, it will be an amazing story; but if I don't, that won't diminish or define who I've been as a ballplayer.' There are so many players that played this game and never had the chance to win the World Series or even go to the playoffs. Being able to win was a great feeling, especially with a great group of guys. It's something we'll remember for the rest of our lives."
Beltran retires with a .279/.350/.486 slash line, 2,725 hits, 435 home runs, 1,587 RBIs and 1,582 runs scored. He admits that falling short of some milestones -- 3,000 hits, in particular -- is disappointing, but he feels comfortable that he took full advantage of his talent during stops with the Royals, Astros, Mets, Giants, Cardinals, Yankees and Rangers.
Chasing milestones, however, wasn't enough to keep him playing instead of going home to spend time with Jessica and their three children, Ivana (10), Kiara (6) and Evan Carlos (2).
"I didn't tell anybody, but I was 100-percent sure that I was going to go home [after the postseason]," said Beltran, who tried to soak everything in during the final months of the season. "There were days when the family was in Houston that I didn't feel like going to the ballpark. I was having such a good time with the family, with the kids. When I started getting those feelings, it made me think.
"I have such a passion for baseball, but at some point, it's time. I wish I could play this game for a few more years to get to some goals like 3,000 hits or things like that, but at the end of the day, I just felt like it was time for me to move to my next chapter in life."
Beltran's name is frequently thrown around in Hall of Fame conversations, but he hasn't spent much time considering that possibility. After more than two decades of focusing only on things he could control, he's not going to get wrapped up in something completely out of his power.
"I'm satisfied with my career," Beltran said. "I can see myself back in my hometown of Manati [Puerto Rico], walking to the ballpark when I was a kid, trying to become a professional ballplayer. Seeing the things that I have accomplished in the game, not a lot of guys have accomplished that. That God chose me to be one of those guys, I'm extremely blessed."
Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.