One of Major League Baseball’s youngest executives will be staying with the Milwaukee Brewers for the foreseeable future.
Milwaukee officially announced a contract extension Wednesday for David Stearns, who also received a new job title with the extension. The 34-year-old Stearns was promoted to President of Baseball Operations, making him the first executive in franchise history to be named to such position.
This promotion prevents other MLB teams from hiring away Stearns from the Brewers, as there is no other position higher in an organization’s front office than the president title. Earlier this off-season, the San Francisco Giants were denied permission to interview Stearns for their open President of Baseball Operations job that went to former Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi.
Terms’ of Stearns extension haven’t been made public yet, and they likely will never be, but Brewers owner Mark Attanasio had the following to say in a press release from the team today about Stearns’ extension, and another promotion in the Brewers front office that dealt with Rick Schlesinger being promoted from Chief Operating Officer to Milwaukee’s President of Business Operations:
“David (Stearns) and Rick (Schlesinger) have developed processes and standards of excellence that are embraced by everyone in our organization,” Attanasio said. “David’s approach to acquiring, developing and retaining talent has been instrumental in our success, both on the field and in the front office, and we believe it has created a strong foundation that will continue to pay dividends in future years. On the business side, Rick’s commitment to elevate the Miller Park experience has led to one of the top fan environments in sports, and we see evidence of that in everything from attendance to growth in corporate partnerships. Together, David and Rick bring great vision to our leadership team. I congratulate both of them on their highly-deserved promotions.”– Mark Attanasio, Brewers Chairman and Principal Owner
Stearns was first hired as general manager of the Brewers in October 2015, a job title he will keep in-addition to his new presidential role. Since replacing Doug Melvin as general manager, the Brewers have improved their win total every season under Stearns’ leadership, going from 73 wins in 2016, to 86 in 2017, and then 96 last season that lead to Milwaukee capturing their first National League Central Division title and playoff berth since 2011.
Star outfielder Christian Yelich was instrumental in helping the Brewers end their playoff drought, as he captured the National League’s MVP award by batting .326/.402/.598 with 36 home runs, 110 runs batted in, and 22 stolen bases. This made Yelich the Brewers’ first MVP award winner since teammate Ryan Braun in 2011. Stearns acquired Yelich via trade from the Miami Marlins last January, and he also signed outfielder Lorenzo Cain to a five-year, $80 million contract on the same day the Yelich trade was completed. Cain ended up making the all-star team and finished 7th in National League MVP voting.
This off-season has also contained a significant move for the Brewers, as they were able to ink former all-star catcher Yasmani Grandal to a one-year, $18.25 million contract with a vesting option for the 2020 season despite Grandal receiving multiple multi-year offers from at least five other MLB teams. In-addition to joining a lineup that features Yelich, Cain, and Braun, Grandal will be joining Jesus Aguilar and Travis Shaw in that same lineup. Both Shaw and Aguilar blasted 30+ homers last season, and were also both acquired by Stearns before the 2017 season.
The Brewers are hopeful that Stearns’ regime can provide the franchise with much needed sustained success. Milwaukee hasn’t made the playoffs in back-to-back years since 1981 and 1982, and after falling one win short of the franchise’s second-ever World Series berth last season, there will be great sense of urgency to get back to that point as soon as possible.