Mets hiring David Stearns as president of baseball operations

For years, the rumor was whispered so often that folks in baseball stopped bothering to hush their voices: New York Mets owner Steve Cohen wanted David Stearns to run his baseball operations department, and he was willing to wait as long as it took to get him. Even when Stearns was serving as president of baseball operations of the Milwaukee Brewers, then when he stepped away to spend more time with his family, a partnership with Cohen seemed inevitable. After all, the man who spent more on an MLB roster than anyone in history has a knack for getting what he wants.

On Tuesday, Cohen finally got his man, agreeing to a deal that makes Stearns, 38, the Mets’ new head of baseball operations, according to multiple reports. The Mets have yet to confirm the agreement or the terms of the deal, which will bring Stearns back to his hometown and the team for which he interned at the beginning of his baseball career.

The Mets were linked to Stearns long before they endured the most disappointing season in their turbulent recent history, but the decision to bring him in now may stand as the most significant change Cohen makes to his front office after watching the most expensive roster in history fall out of contention by the trade deadline.

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All indications are that Billy Eppler, whom Cohen hired as general manager to settle front-office chaos after the 2021 season, will remain in that role. It was Eppler, with nudges from Cohen, who assembled the creaky and expensive roster that floundered this year. But it was also Eppler, with nudges from Cohen, who oversaw New York’s trade deadline sell-off, one that netted the Mets several promising prospects and accelerated the slow process of rejuvenating a barren farm system.

Stearns will inherit a baseball operations department with plenty of room for a remodel. Just days ago, the Mets fired director of professional scouting Jeff Lebow, farm director Kevin Howard, performance director Jim Cavallini and baseball development director Bryan Hayes, according to As of now, however, Stearns will not have to choose a new manager: Buck Showalter is under contract through next season.

Perhaps more importantly, Stearns will inherit a massive budget. He spent eight years assembling a roster on a notoriously stingy budget in Milwaukee, creating four playoff teams in that span despite never having a payroll that ranked higher than 17th. Under his watch, the Brewers gained a reputation for developing good young pitching and built one of the best homegrown rotations in the sport.

Good young pitching is something the Mets have lacked in recent years, which is why they spent exorbitantly on aging aces Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in the offseason. Cohen has said the Mets will not be spending as freely this winter, eyeing a return to contention in 2025 rather than trying to force a quick turnaround. But whether Cohen is able to stick with that idea remains to be seen: He only has about $200 million committed to the 2024 roster at this point, which doesn’t feel like all that much when compared with the nearly $350 million he spent this year. With the Brewers, Stearns never oversaw a payroll above $131 million.

Even though Cohen has suggested he will not spend with abandon again next year, Stearns will shoulder tremendous pressure to deliver a World Series title sooner than later. But even Cohen has acknowledged that the long-term health of the franchise depends not on how much he spends but on its ability to develop young players, particularly pitchers, and take advantage of their output during their less-expensive years. Stearns has a history of doing just that, though as the native New Yorker knows, Queens is not a place overflowing with patience.

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