Major League Baseball
New Mets prez David Stearns: There will be no 'reset' years in New York
Major League Baseball

New Mets prez David Stearns: There will be no 'reset' years in New York

Published Oct. 2, 2023 6:55 p.m. ET

NEW YORK — David Stearns wore a cheeky, satisfied grin to match his polished navy blue blazer and white dress shirt. It seems common, working under Mets owner Steve Cohen, to start Day 1 on the job with giddy optimism and confidence about the future of the organization. Stearns, being officially introduced as the franchise's first ever president of baseball operations, was no different in his demeanor. The difference with Stearns, why there just might be legitimate reason to believe in his comfortable grin, is all that he's already proven and the clear-cut direction he wants to go. 

On Monday afternoon, sitting at the front of the Citi Field press conference room — next to a rather disheveled looking Cohen that suggested how hectic these past 24 hours have probably been — and speaking in a leveled yet intentional tone, Stearns did not mince words. 

"It requires an army," said Stearns, a native New Yorker who grew up a Mets fan, on building organizational strength. "You need to be strong across your entire organization because weak links will be found. There's really strong competition out there. The organizations that are doing what we want to do — what we are striving to do — they don't have any weak links." 

The immediate future of the Mets organization is now in Stearns' hands, backed by Cohen's resources and untold billions. His first act as president of baseball ops was firing popular clubhouse manager Buck Showalter — a decision he said was less about Showalter and more about starting anew. Stearns' next act will be making sure the Mets will be competitive in 2024, finally clearing up lingering confusion over the organization's true intentions for next year. 


Time will tell how competitive they will actually be. But Stearns assured he is committed to being in the postseason race and building "a true playoff contender" every year. He does not anticipate 2024 being a rebuilding year despite their most recent and aggressive trade deadline moves that sent Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander out of Flushing.

"I don't know that I would ever say that a year here should be a reset year," Stearns said. "We have some pretty good players on the major-league roster right now. We got some young guys who broke into the big leagues who have a chance to be good. I don't know if I'd use the word reset. What I will continue to focus on is making as competitive a team as possible in 2024 while understanding that the long-term goal and the way to win a World Series is to have truly sustainable competitiveness where you're competing for championships." 

Pete Alonso is one "pretty good player" on the Mets roster right now who, it sounds like, won't be leaving town anytime soon. Stearns was asked about the future of Alonso, who is set to become a free agent after the 2024 season, and the new POBO made it clear that the All-Star first baseman is an integral part of what the Mets are trying to achieve. Beyond being pretty good at hitting dingers, Alonso is the face of the Mets franchise. Stearns, a Harvard graduate, understands the importance of the slugger's standing on the roster and his impact within the community and fan base. There was no mention of a possible extension, however.

"Pete is a great player, he is also good in the clubhouse, and he is also homegrown," Stearns said. "All of that matters. I know over the summer there was some trade speculation and I'll just say, I expect Pete to be the Opening Day first baseman next year. Pete is an important member of this team, he's an important member of this organization, and we're really fortunate to have him."

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As far as philosophies, sustainability is at the top of the list for both Cohen and Stearns. After three years of Cohen chasing Stearns, who was under contract with the Brewers until halfway through this year, they finally met for the first time this August. Since then, their partnership formed over four separate occasions, including three- to six-hour meetings, conversations and dinners. 

Together, Cohen and Stearns plan to create a sustainable winner by building a strong organization, and that starts with the front office. For now, we know that general manager Billy Eppler will remain in his role, working under Stearns. Stearns and Eppler have a relationship as front-office competitors, and Stearns mentioned he respects Eppler for the GM's experience in New York. How their responsibilities will be divided remains unclear.  

In the meantime, Stearns will begin meeting with the existing coaching staff and talking to his personnel, both players and brass. The Mets managerial search will be at the top of a handful of priorities for Stearns. Brewers skipper Craig Counsell, whose contract expires this fall, remains the leading candidate to take over as Mets manager due to his previous working relationship with Stearns in Milwaukee. But Stearns also alluded to bringing in a new voice, the details of which include why Showalter was dismissed.

"We talked at a high level about the qualities we're seeking in a manager," Stearns said of his conversations with Cohen. "My desire to really be able to grow with a manager, have someone here hopefully for a long time and find that person. And also my belief that coming in from the outside, it would be beneficial to me and also to the organization to have someone start at the beginning of this journey with me, to make sure we're aligned at the outset, to make sure that we're ready to move forward for a long time together. 

"This isn't really specific to Buck. This is more about coming in new, given the situation the organization is in right now, my belief that a new direction, a new voice, a little bit of a fresh start for the organization as a whole, was in everyone's best interests." 

In another offseason of organizational turnover, there is so much for Stearns to do as he meets and hires new people, learns new names, and settles into his office at Citi Field. But the club's newest front-office leader doesn't appear overwhelmed, if only because of his childhood love for the Mets franchise. Stearns grew up in Manhattan and his mother, Susan, still lives in New York City. Stearns said it's meaningful to him that now his kids, Nora and Austin, will grow up Mets fans, too.

He recalled sneaking into Shea Stadium in the late 90s, relying on a stadium usher who was sympathetic to a 13-year-old Stearns just wanting to watch some baseball. That only happened a couple of times, Stearns admitted with a wide, sly grin. 

"Now, I appreciate they're letting me in here without a ticket," Stearns quipped.

The Mets aren't just letting Stearns in; they're banking on him to deliver their first World Series title since 1986, which was so long ago the lifelong fan was only a year old. This job might sound like his dream scenario, but his holy grail is to win a championship. 

"You don't grow up a rabid fan of a team and then one day get to stand here at a press conference and talking about that team," Stearns said. "I understand this doesn't happen. So the fact that it has happened to me, I recognize how incredible that is."

The Mets, the team with the richest payroll in MLB history, were supposed to go all the way this year. That mission collapsed before August. On Monday, the first day of the Mets' offseason and less than 24 hours after they capped a 74-87 campaign and fourth-place finish, Citi Field was awash in sunlight and optimism. We've seen it before, too many times in recent history, all come crumbling down. Now it's up to Stearns to help determine how long his satisfied smile, and these good feelings, will last.

Deesha Thosar is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the Mets as a beat reporter for the New York Daily News. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Deesha grew up on Long Island and now lives in Queens. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar. 


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