For the past few years, speculation has abounded about the future of Brewers’ executive David Stearns. The Mets have made no secret of their affinity for Milwaukee’s longtime baseball operations leader.
New York’s interest hadn’t amounted to much to this point. Stearns has been under contract with Milwaukee, allowing Brewers’ owner Mark Attanasio to block the Mets from interviewing him over the 2021-22 offseason. Attanasio retained that freedom last winter, even as Stearns stepped down from running baseball operations and moved into an advisory role for longtime lieutenant Matt Arnold.
That’s no longer the case. Ken Rosenthal and Will Sammon of the Athletic report that Stearns’ contract allowed him to begin speaking with other teams about a possible front office job following the August 1 trade deadline. Rosenthal and Sammon report that Stearns has already been in contact with both the Mets and Astros (potentially among other teams).
There has been plenty of speculation around the industry about the Mets turning baseball operations over to Stearns once his contract with Milwaukee was finished. Not only is he clearly well-regarded by Mets’ owner Steve Cohen, the 38-year-old executive is a Manhattan native who worked in the Mets’ front office early in his career. While New York signed Billy Eppler to a four-year contract to take over as general manager in the 2021-22 offseason, Cohen has gone on record about a desire to add a baseball operations president to take over above Eppler (who would remain as GM).
It’s unclear how far along talks between Stearns and the New York organization have gotten. Andy Martino of SNY suggests (Twitter link) that discussions have already advanced further than the Mets’ talks with Theo Epstein had two offseasons ago, though he cautions that a deal coming together is not certain.
Perhaps that’s related to the possibility of Houston staying involved. Stearns worked as an assistant general manager for the Astros from 2013-15, the immediate precursor to taking over baseball operations in Milwaukee. He’s clearly familiar with Houston owner Jim Crane, who reportedly showed interest in bringing Stearns back last offseason (but denied in January that he’d requested formal permission from the Brewers for an interview).
The path to running baseball operations is clearer in Queens than in Houston, however. The Astros surprisingly moved on from James Click last offseason despite winning the World Series. They operated without a baseball operations leader until tabbing Braves’ vice president of scouting Dana Brown in late January. While Crane took an unconventional path with Click — with whom he’d reportedly had a frosty relationship despite the team’s success — there’s no indication the now first-place club is considering diminishing Brown’s responsibility after eight months on the job.
That all seems to point to the Mets as the most logical landing spot. Rosenthal and Sammon hear from individuals close to Stearns that he was “re-energized” by a season with less responsibility and is prepared to reassume a key role in baseball operations. (Stearns declined comment to The Athletic.) That’d be a change from last winter, when he said he was “looking forward to taking a deep breath, spending time with my family and exploring some other interests” when stepping down from the president role with Milwaukee.