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Arnold elevated to GM post by Brewers

@AdamMcCalvy
November 19, 2020

MILWAUKEE -- Days after denying the Mets an opportunity to poach David Stearns from the top of Milwaukee’s baseball operations department, the Brewers moved Thursday to shield Stearns’ longtime top lieutenant from similar efforts. Matt Arnold, one of Stearns’ first hires in the fall of 2015, has been promoted to

MILWAUKEE -- Days after denying the Mets an opportunity to poach David Stearns from the top of Milwaukee’s baseball operations department, the Brewers moved Thursday to shield Stearns’ longtime top lieutenant from similar efforts.

Matt Arnold, one of Stearns’ first hires in the fall of 2015, has been promoted to senior vice president and general manager. Stearns, meanwhile, saw his job title amended from president of baseball operations and GM to simply president of baseball operations.

The Brewers continued their policy of never divulging details about the terms of front-office contracts. They used that same standard while promoting Stearns to the title of president in January 2019, when he was believed to have received a five-year contract.

“We've operated in a partnership mentality for some time now, so I don't really see much changing from a day-to-day perspective,” Stearns said. “I think we're going to move forward much in the way we have, which is really working together on everything we do. That's been one of the really rewarding aspects for both of us, and hopefully, our entire baseball operations organization, over the past five years.”

Stearns remains the Brewers’ top baseball operations official, and short of principal owner Mark Attanasio, the team’s top decision-maker on player personnel matters. So why the fuss over job titles? Because they can be meaningful in the increasingly competitive world of acquiring and retaining front-office talent in the same way teams acquire players.

Take the case of the Mets, who have a new owner (Steve Cohen) and club president (Sandy Alderson) and recently called the Brewers asking for permission to interview Stearns -- who grew up a Mets fan in New York City -- for the position of president of baseball operations. Because he already had that title in Milwaukee, it was technically a lateral move. The Brewers had the right to decline the Mets’ request, and they did.

Likewise, Arnold has drawn interest from teams including the Angels, who interviewed him for their vacant GM post at the start of the offseason (they recently hired Perry Minasian for the position). Arnold is among the names that have been mentioned as potential candidates for other current openings with the Mets and Phillies. Stearns declined to say whether Thursday’s promotion was in response to another team’s request to interview Arnold.

The Brewers are far from the only team with a GM working under a president of baseball operations. The Cubs operated with that alignment for years before Theo Epstein stepped down this week and his longtime GM, Jed Hoyer, was elevated. The Cardinals have president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and vice president and GM Michael Girsch.

“There are probably a number of reasons why clubs go to this structure,” Stearns said. “I think the first, these are big organizations, constantly growing with different aspects, different tentacles, and I think more and more organizations recognize that it’s helpful to have multiple people at senior leadership positions to oversee that group. There are more and more organizations going to this structure, so that leads to the potential of more and more organizations having open positions. Matt has a tremendous reputation throughout the industry, deservedly so, and that’s going to get noticed by other clubs, as it should.”

Said Arnold: “Look, it's certainly flattering to be considered for some of these incredible opportunities, but honestly that's not my focus today. It’s our focus to continue our partnership here for hopefully many years to come, and I'm really proud of our staff. I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish here -- you know, the fact that we've made the playoffs three consecutive years is something I'm really proud of. I think that that's a credit to everyone that works here.”

Arnold, 41, joined the Brewers on Oct. 14, 2015, as vice president and assistant GM. He was then promoted to senior vice president and assistant GM in June 2019. Since the addition of Stearns (who assumed his role on Oct. 5, 2015) and Arnold, the Brewers have the fifth-best regular-season winning percentage in the National League (.526) since 2016, and the third-best winning percentage in the NL since 2017 (.548). Stearns and Arnold built the first teams in Brewers history to qualify for the postseason in three straight seasons.

Arnold spent nine seasons, 2007-15, with the Rays before Stearns hired him away. Arnold was Tampa Bay’s director of player personnel at the time. Arnold also worked in baseball ops for the Dodgers (2000), Rangers (2002) and Reds (2003-06).

“My job here is to provide David with the best information possible and to the extent that he and Mark make good decisions, that's great for all of us,” Arnold said. “And so, I don't see any of that changing. I'm excited to keep digging on more players and trying to uncover new opportunities to get better every day. I don't see any of that changing for us.”

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