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Brewers promote Stearns, extending contract

Longtime exec Schlesinger also receives promotion, extension
January 23, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- Rewarding their architect for ahead-of-schedule success on the field, and moving to protect him from being poached by a larger market, the Brewers on Wednesday promoted David Stearns to president of baseball operations and general manager while extending his contract.The Brewers did not reveal the length of Stearns'

MILWAUKEE -- Rewarding their architect for ahead-of-schedule success on the field, and moving to protect him from being poached by a larger market, the Brewers on Wednesday promoted David Stearns to president of baseball operations and general manager while extending his contract.
The Brewers did not reveal the length of Stearns' extension, continuing a policy of closely guarding information about front-office contracts. They never disclosed his initial deal, either, though extensions like the one struck Wednesday often come when an executive or player is entering the final year of a contract.
The Brewers also promoted longtime executive Rick Schlesinger to president of business operations and extended his contract.
"David and Rick have developed processes and standards of excellence that are embraced by everyone in our organization," Attanasio said in a statement. "David's approach to acquiring, developing and retaining talent has been instrumental in our success, both on the field and in the front office, and we believe it has created a strong foundation that will continue to pay dividends in future years. On the business side, Rick's commitment to elevate the Miller Park experience has led to one of the top fan environments in sports, and we see evidence of that in everything from attendance to growth in corporate partnerships.
"Together, David and Rick bring great vision to our leadership team. I congratulate both of them on their highly-deserved promotions."
Stearns was 30 years old when the Brewers made him baseball's youngest general manager in late 2015, a few months into an organizational rebuild begun by former GM Doug Melvin. The process produced results earlier than anticipated, with the Brewers increasing their win total in each full season under Stearns and manager Craig Counsell, from 73 in 2016 to 86 in '17 and a franchise record-tying 96 wins in '18, when the Brewers matched their club mark thanks to a victory over the Cubs in a tiebreaking Game 163 and clinched the National League Central title and the NL's best record.
The Brewers went on to beat the Rockies in the NL Division Series before losing in seven games to the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series. Baseball America named Milwaukee its Organization of the Year, and Stearns drew interest from other teams with front-office openings. Among them were the Giants, who ultimately hired Farhan Zaidi from the Dodgers as president of baseball ops.
"It is rewarding, and it's a reflection not only on the work that I've done, but on the work that our entire group has done," Stearns said. "It's a vote of confidence by our ownership group in how we put the team together, our thought processes and our strategy. Whenever your work is reaffirmed, that feels good. Our entire department should feel good about this."
The promotion will make it harder for other teams, presumably in larger markets with deeper pockets, to hire Stearns away from the Brewers. He discussed that with wife Whitney, who gave birth to the couple's first child in October, and together they decided to commit.
"There were so many things that made this seem right," Stearns said. "From our enjoyment of the city and living here, to the ownership support that we get, to the fan support that we get, to the people I get to work with on a daily basis. As we added that all up, it sure made a lot of sense to stay, and I'm really glad we get a chance to do that.
"You know, I'll also say that this postseason run and the community reaction and fan engagement was pretty impactful for me. To feel that and to see that throughout September and the playoffs -- frankly, even after we lost -- it was just genuine enthusiasm that this city has for this team. That certainly entered my thought process a great deal as well."
Asked whether others in the department will be promoted or otherwise rewarded, Stearns praised their "tremendous work" and said, "We're going to make sure we acknowledge those people. Some of that will happen publicly, and some not publicly. But when you sit in this seat, you are more cognizant than anyone about the importance of having a good group around you."
Schlesinger, whose former title was chief operating officer, is entering his 17th season overseeing the club's business affairs, including finance, human resources, information technology, legal, sponsorships, marketing, ticketing, communications, broadcasting and non-baseball special events. He led negotiations on a new stadium naming rights agreement with American Family Insurance, which was announced Tuesday but does not begin until 2021.

Schlesinger also oversees operations of the club-owned Class A Advanced Carolina Mudcats, as well as Milwaukee's Spring Training facility in Phoenix. That complex is in the midst of a renovation in which the Brewers are investing more than $61 million.
"The foundation of our business operation is the quality of the fan and partner experience, and I'm grateful to Mark for giving us the resources to enhance those areas every year," Schlesinger said. "I also have the highest appreciation for the work that David and his baseball operations team does to put a high-performing team on the field. David and I both understand the importance of our two disciplines working together as one, cohesive unit, and we embrace that approach throughout the organization."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.