David Stearns is stepping down as Milwaukee Brewers president of baseball operations, per reports from several outlets. General manager Matt Arnold has been promoted to replace Stearns and Stearns will remain with the club in an advisory role.
“This is not an easy decision for me and is something I have been wrestling with for a long time,” Stearns said in a prepared statement. “[Owner] Mark Attanasio and I have had an open dialogue and we both knew this day could eventually come. It has been a priority for both of us that any transition would take place while the organization is in a healthy position with solid leadership and a talented roster going forward. That is certainly the case today.”
While this came as a surprise shakeup to some as Stearns is still under contract for one more season and is one of the most well-regarded executives in the industry, many in the industry believe the stage is now set for Stearns to take over baseball operations for another MLB team in the immediate future. This news will fuel already rampant speculation that “another MLB team” may mean the Mets.
The 36-year-old Harvard alum is a native of Manhattan and served as an intern with the Mets in 2008. Brewers owner Mark Attanasio denied the Mets permission to interview Stearns for their front office vacancy last fall. The Mets ultimately hired Billy Eppler to serve as general manager, leaving the door open for a president of baseball operations to act above him in the front office hierarchy. And Tim Britton of The Athletic reported last November that the Mets’ true target was still Stearns. Last month, Sandy Alderson announced that he will step down as team president and become a special advisor when a replacement is found. While Alderson was no longer running baseball operations after Billy Eppler was hired, it still represents a changing of the guard in the Mets’ front office under the new Cohen ownership regime.
As Jon Heyman and others have reported, because Stearns remains in an advisory role with the Brewers and under contract through 2023, any team wishing to hire him away from Milwaukee would still need permission from Mark Attanasio to interview him. The advisory role is perhaps a leverage play on the part of Attanasio to seek compensation from any team wishing to hire Stearns in the form of a trade.
The Mets are not the only team who might be in on Stearns, who is likely coveted by multiple organizations. James Click’s job status is rumored to be in jeopardy in Houston, where Stearns once served as assistant GM, and Brian Cashman’s contract with the Yankees is up at the end of the month, but he is expected to be brought back despite another disappointing playoff finish. Still, the availability of a hot shot free agent may change this calculus for other clubs. But until Stearns finds a landing spot, expect rumors connecting him to the Mets to swirl furiously this offseason.