Although Theo Epstein gets a lot of attention for obvious reasons, one of the less obvious reasons he gets attention is because he’s a free agent. While not quite the roadblock it is when it comes to play acquisition, front office executives do have contracts that theoretically prevent them from moving around. It tends to be the case that teams won’t stand in the way of true promotions in another organization, but the Mets may have some challenges on that front if they’re trying to get snag another organization’s top baseball executive, especially if that executive is already at a “president” level.
To that end, an interesting, NL-Central-impacting bit out of New York with respect to the Mets’ impending president search. Via Joel Sherman at the NY Post:
But I suspect this will not be an Epstein-only process. [Brewers President David] Stearns, for example, will be of great interest again. Born and raised in Manhattan. Like Cohen, he grew up a Mets fan, and actually was an intern for the team. He has the small-market Brewers in the playoffs for the fourth straight year (the Mets have never done more than two straight in their history).
Brewers owner Mark Attanasio is said to 1) be extremely fond of Stearns and 2) hate the concept that smaller teams should be executive training grounds for the bigger ones. So it is possible, he denies access. But the Bronx-born Attanasio also could decide, say, if this is legitimately a dream of Stearns’ not to be obstructionist while also deriving something for his franchise.
Why the Brewers would previously deny the Mets access for an interview – as they did last year – only to now allow it is an open question. But these are human issues, and sometimes, as Joel Sherman writes, the human factor does play into decisions organizations make. Also, we don’t know how long Stearns is under contract for, and it’s not at all crazy to think that he’s being paid under market. So maybe, not entirely unlike they would with a player who is approaching free agency and figures to get really expensive, the Brewers might try to work out a trade.
Kinda wild, but we’ve seen it before. There was the compensation the Cubs sent to the Red Sox (albeit after the fact) for Theo Epstein (relief prospect Chris Carpenter). There was the duo of pitching prospects, one of whom was Trevor Williams, the Marlins sent to the Pirates to acquire pitching guru Jim Benedict.
We’ll keep tracking this because of the obvious, and potentially significant, impact on the Brewers. The way Sherman writes it, I get the sense that there might be a little more to this than mere speculation. I wouldn’t expect the player/prospect return in this kind of trade to be enormous, though Sherman hypothesizes Tyler Megill or Jeff McNeil for purposes of the discussion. Instead, I tend to think the loss of Stearns – and attendant promotions/hirings – would be the big story from the Brewers’ perspective. He’s clearly been wildly successful, and it’s hard to say for sure how well the Brewers would handle a loss like that.