It’s possible the Mets could soon announce David Stearns as the first president of baseball operations in franchise history.
That’s no guarantee, but Mets owner Steve Cohen has been open in discussing his desire to make such a hire, thereby adding a department level above general manager Billy Eppler. Stearns, a New York native who constructed the perennially overachieving Brewers teams of the last decade, has long been the obvious candidate to fill that role. Recent reports have continued to link Stearns to the Mets.
Stearns declined comment this week when reached via text message, but it’s not difficult to find folks willing to vouch for his work. The Mets currently have four players on their roster -- Omar Narváez, Daniel Vogelbach, Phil Bickford and Trevor Gott -- who were on teams that Stearns constructed. They paint a flattering picture of him.
“When you hear the name ‘David Stearns,’ you think of Harvard and just the intelligence in the sense of his approach,” Bickford said.
Bickford was referring to Stearns’ Harvard pedigree, which makes him one of many Ivy League-educated baseball operations professionals in the game today. Upon graduating from Harvard, Stearns briefly worked for the Mets (and elsewhere) before moving rapidly up the ranks as an assistant general manager with the Astros, a GM with the Brewers and, before long, the president of baseball ops in Milwaukee.
There, Stearns accomplished his signature work, taking a fourth-place Brewers team and bringing it to the postseason four consecutive years. Milwaukee won two NL Central titles over that stretch and continues to reap the benefits of deals like the Christian Yelich trade, Stearns’ most notable transaction as GM. Since 2017, Stearns did not oversee a losing roster over a 162-game season.
“When you’re talking about a position like that or anything in baseball, the one thing you look at is their history and their resume and what they’ve done -- as Buck [Showalter] says, ‘track record,’” Vogelbach said. “I was there for two years with them, and it just seemed like there was always a winning product on the field. I don’t know if it was something that he really prioritized, but it always seemed like the guys he brought in were really good players and really good guys that meshed unbelievably in the clubhouse. It was a winning environment always.”
It remains to be seen if the Mets will ultimately land Stearns, but it’s obvious that he is their Plan A. And a resolution could come quickly. According to The Athletic, Stearns, who shifted into an advisory role after last season, became free to talk to other clubs about baseball operations positions on Aug. 1. That means that one way or the other, the Mets should have their answer soon, giving them plenty of runway to address pertinent offseason questions: What happens to Eppler, what happens to Showalter, what next year’s roster might look like… and so on and so forth.
“Change can be exciting,” as Bickford put it.
Added Vogelbach: “Like I said, he’s done it, and he’s been good. I think that all speaks for himself.”