David Stearns introduced as president of baseball operations by New York Mets, his hometown team

David Stearns introduced as president of baseball operations by New York Mets, his hometown team

NEW YORK (AP) — David Stearns was formally appointed the first president of baseball operations in New York Mets history Monday, taking over the hometown team he cheered for as a child.

The former Milwaukee Brewers boss was introduced by owner Steve Cohen at a Citi Field news conference on the heels of a hugely disappointing season. Despite championship aspirations and a record $355 million payroll on opening day, New York dropped out of playoff contention by midsummer and finished fourth in the NL East.

“I’ve got plenty of work to do,” Stearns said.

The 38-year-old executive was placed above general manager Billy Eppler and under Cohen in a working structure fairly common around baseball but new to the Mets.

Stearns will lead a search for the team’s next manager after Buck Showalter was fired Sunday. And Stearns said he expects Pete Alonso to be New York’s first baseman on opening day next year — the All-Star slugger has been the subject of trade speculation because he’s eligible for free agency after the 2024 season.

Cohen had been seeking a president of baseball operations to oversee the entire department since buying the club in November 2020. Several attractive candidates, including Stearns, were unavailable during a three-year process that Cohen called “sort of dog years.”

“I’m really excited by this,” Cohen said. “You know, I’ve been really patient looking for the right person. As David and I got to know each other, I mean, it’s clear that we’re aligned in our thinking. We get along very well.”

A former Mets intern, Stearns grew up in New York City and recalled sneaking into games at Shea Stadium as a kid during the late 1990s.

As speculation increased over time that he would ultimately land this job, he said he and his wife had to calm his excited mother, Susan, before finally getting to call her a couple of weeks ago and tell her “this was really happening.”

“It’s meaningful for me, it’s cool for me that our kids get to grow up Mets fans now. That we get to share that. That we get to live this journey together and they get to experience a little bit of what I experienced,” said Stearns, a Harvard graduate. “I grew up listening to Gary Cohen and Bob Murphy and Ed Coleman every summer. I’ve ridden the roller coaster of disappointment and hope, along with every other Mets fan.

“I feel very fortunate and privileged to be here right now. I understand this doesn’t happen, right? You don’t grow up a rabid fan of a team and then one day get to stand here at a press conference talking about leading that team,” he added. “And so the fact that it has happened to me, I recognize how incredible that is.”

Stearns enjoyed a successful run while leading Milwaukee’s baseball operations department from September 2015 through the 2022 season before stepping down and moving into an advisory role. He agreed to join the Mets last month, and his contract with the Brewers expired Sunday.

Milwaukee came within one win of the World Series in 2018 and returned to the playoffs each of the next three seasons. The Brewers won NL Central titles in 2018 and 2021, and another one this year.

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)