The New York Mets are now 0 for 3 with their top front-office targets. The Milwaukee Brewers have denied the Mets permission to interview president of baseball operations David Stearns, and Oakland Athletics vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane has withdrawn from consideration, report the New York Post's Joel Sherman and The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.
Earlier this month Mets owner Steve Cohen and Theo Epstein agreed they weren't the right fit for each other. Beane, Epstein and Stearns were said to be the top three names on New York's wishlist as they look to install a permanent head of baseball operations. Team president Sandy Alderson filled that role in 2021.
Stearns, 36, is a native New Yorker who briefly worked for the Mets earlier in his career. He cut his teeth with Cleveland and the Astros before taking over the Milwaukee job in September of 2015. Stearns inherited a 94-loss team and two years later the Brewers won the division. They've gone to the postseason each of the past four seasons and Stearns' profile has increased accordingly.
Generally speaking, teams will allow employees to interview with other teams when there is a promotion involved. Stearns taking over as the Mets president of baseball operations would be a lateral move, however. Also, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio has staunchly defended the interests of small-market teams, including not allowing big-market clubs to steal away their top executives.
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Stearns is under contract through 2022, though SNY's Andy Martino recently reported it is "now believed" Stearns also has a 2023 vesting option in his contract. The Mets were also denied permission to interview Stearns last year, but because his contract is one year closer to expiring, he had a little more leverage this time around. He's one year closer to free agency, essentially.
Beane, now 59, briefly played for the Mets in the 1980s, and was rumored to have some interest in their baseball operations job. He has a small ownership stake in the A's and the Mets would have had to compensate him (handsomely, most likely) to give that up to join their front office. Cohen, of course, is MLB's wealthiest owner with a net worth north of $14 billion.
The Mets went 77-85 and missed the postseason in Cohen's first year as owner. They missed out on their top president of baseball operations targets last year and instead hired Jared Porter as their general manager. Porter was fired a month later for sending lewd text messages to a female reporter, and his replacement, Zack Scott, was arrested on DUI charges in September.
In addition to improving a roster that missed the postseason for the fifth straight season, the Mets badly need to restore credibility to their front office. They need an adult in the room as much as anything and Beane and Stearns (and Epstein) would have qualified.