The Milwaukee Brewers announced some stunning news on Thursday: David Stearns, president of baseball operations, has stepped down from his position and will transition to an advisory role. Matt Arnold, current GM of the Brewers, will succeed him as president of baseball operations.
"This is not an easy decision for me and is something I have been wrestling with for a long time," Stearns said in a statement released by the team. "[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."
This isn't a move anyone expected. Stearns, 37, became the Brewers' general manager at the end of the 2015 season (becoming the president of baseball ops in 2019) and has had a major impact on the Brewers' fortunes. In his first season, the Brewers finished in fourth place in the National League Central, 30.5 games out of first place. In 2017, they finished second and just six games behind. In 2018, they finished in first and made it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Is Stearns headed to the Mets next?
The Brewers missed the playoffs this year despite the expanded wild-card, but that doesn't seem to be the reasoning behind Stearns' decision to move on. So what's really going on here? Why would a young, successful executive essentially leave a job like that?
Three words: New York Mets. In previous years, that would have been a joke answer, since the Mets were in shambles under their longtime owners the Wilpon family. But new owner Steve Cohen and his deep pockets have changed things in Queens in just two seasons. The Mets won 101 games in 2022 before being eliminated by the San Diego Padres in the National League wild-card series. They have a strong young core and a manager (Buck Showalter) who sets the right tone.
And the Mets just so happen to be in need of a new team president. Sandy Alderson, who came back for a second stint with the Mets at Cohen's request, announced in Sept. that he would be stepping down at the end of the season and would transition to a role as special adviser.
Stearns is under 40 and is considered one of baseball's whiz kids. His name has been connected with every Mets job opening for years. And with the Mets, he'd be facing a different kind of challenge than he did with the Brewers. He wouldn't be asked to rebuild a team. He would have more than a strong foundation to work with — to put it in HGTV terms, he'd essentially be given a constructed home and asked to fix up some minor to medium issues to get it ready for move in.
If Stearns is headed to the Mets, it's possible we won't hear anything about it until after the World Series. The Mets haven't even publicly announced that they've started the first round of interviews yet. But Stearns could take some notes while watching the Fall Classic. The Philadelphia Phillies brought in Dave Dombrowski as their president of baseball ops before the 2021 season, and his job was to take an already strong team and add the right players to finally push them over the line into the playoffs. He did just that in 2022, and now the 87-win Phillies are in the World Series after a 11-year absence from the playoffs.