When Steve Cohen completed his purchase of the Mets in November 2020, he made multiple things clear. One was that he wanted to hire a President of Baseball Operations. After two-plus years of swings and misses, Cohen is finally hiring his preferred choice: former Milwaukee Brewers general manager, David Stearns.
The Mets are hiring David Stearns in the most significant front-office move since Andrew Friedman went from the Rays to the Dodgers nearly a decade ago. News, free and unlocked, at ESPN on the move and why it's such a big deal for the Mets: https://t.co/T7hkc2zOjo
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 12, 2023
This is why they say patience is a virtue, folks.
New York hiring Stearns to head its front office has literally been years in the making. The 38-year-old is a New York native who grew up as a Mets fan. Cohen and Co. asked Milwaukee for permission to interview Stearns following the 2021 season, which was denied. Stearns then stepped down from his job as Brewers GM following the 2022 campaign.
But with one year remaining on his deal, he moved into an advisory role and was still prohibited from exploring new opportunities. That changed after the August 1st trade deadline, as his contract allowed him to begin having those conversations.
How significant is this hire? Passan mentioned on multiple occasions in his ESPN article that this is the biggest front-office hire since Andrew Friedman left the Tampa Bay Rays to run the Los Angeles Dodgers. Here’s why that’s the case, according to Passan:
Like Friedman, Stearns excelled in a small market with a limited budget, going 554-479 in seven years — an average of 87 wins a season. Never in Stearns’ tenure did the Brewers carry an above-average payroll — and in his first two seasons, they ranked last in Major League Baseball. By Stearns’ third year, the Brewers ran away with the National League Central division and pushed the Dodgers to Game 7 of the NL Championship Series.
It began a run of four consecutive playoff appearances for Milwaukee and helped cement Stearns as one of the game’s brightest young executives. He began his career interning with the Mets, who declined to hire him full-time. Stearns moved to MLB’s labor-relations department before heading to Cleveland, where he served as director of baseball operations. Houston hired Stearns, then 27, as an assistant general manager, and three years later, Milwaukee replaced longtime GM Doug Melvin with him.
Stearns’ first splash came in 2018, when he traded four prospects to Miami for outfielder Christian Yelich, who won the NL MVP award that season. Under Stearns, Milwaukee regularly developed solid big-league players despite a farm system that was not regarded among the best by evaluators.
So, you’re telling me this guy can stretch limited resources to put a winner on the field while also developing a farm system? This sounds like a dream hire for Cohen. It’s not surprising why he waited around so long to make this happen.
Passan notes Stearns will officially begin shortly after the regular season is complete. He also reports what’s been shared several times already. Billy Eppler will remain the general manager and serve as Stearns’ right-hand man.
I’m sure many people would like to see Eppler get his walking papers, but he’ll be a valuable asset. He’s been with the organization for two seasons and knows the ins and outs of the farm system. Plus, the two of them will work together to rebuild the Mets’ front office after making several firings recently.
This is obviously big news for the Mets. It’s great that this hire is happening now because it allows Stearns to hit the ground running this offseason. New York’s search for a POBO went way longer than anyone would’ve liked. However, it appears they landed their preferred choice for the job.
Let’s hope this is the first step to a Mets World Series title in the near future. Oh, along with consistently competitive teams. That’d be nice, too.