David Stearns primed to enhance Mets’ culture: ‘I loved the atmosphere he created’

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David Stearns Mets
FILE – Milwaukee Brewers President of Baseball Operations David Stearns talks about stepping down from that role during a news conference Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, in Milwaukee. Stearns has agreed to become president of baseball operations for the underperforming New York Mets, according to several reports, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

QUEENS — Before signing a two-year, $15 million deal with the Mets over the winter, veteran catcher Omar Narvaez spent the previous three seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers — so there was some understandable excitement when reports emerged that David Stearns was hired as New York’s new president of baseball operations. 

“I like the way he works. He’s a great guy,” Narvaez told amNewYork. “He’s one of those guys, whether he’s the president or GM, he’ll always find a way to be available and he was always willing to talk to his players. That gives a lot of confidence to us as players.”

David Stearns Mets
David Stearns (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

Narvaez is one of two Mets — the other being Daniel Vogelbach — who has past experience working under Stearns, who was the Brewers’ general manager from 2015-2018 before serving as the organization’s president of baseball operations from 2019-2022. He had spent the 2023 season in a special advisory role as the remainder of his contract ran out, which was a day that Mets owner Steve Cohen had been waiting three years for to finally get his top guy. 

The emergence of Francisco Alvarez has relegated Narvaez to the backup catcher’s role, which was always going to be the plan when he signed on with the club. It was more of a question of “when,” rather than “if.” While injuries have also limited him to 41 games this year, he’s batting just .189 with a home run and six RBI.

But had one of his better seasons as a pro while working under Stearns in Milwaukee, garnering his first and only All-Star Game selection in 2021 when he batted .266 with a .743 OPS, 11 home runs, and 49 RBI in 123 games. 

Mets Ottavino Narvaez
Mets catcher Omar Narvaez (right) in action against the Houston Astros. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Maximizing talent is commonplace when it comes to Stearns, who built a small-market Brewers team and led it into its most prosperous stretch in franchise history. Milwaukee made the postseason just four times from 1969-2017. With Stearns at the helm, they made the playoffs four years in a row from 2018-2021. 

He’s done that through the trade and free-agent markets more so than the farm system, though a former employee of Stearns told The Athletic that he’s an “elite at hiring.” That means bringing in the right people to properly oversee a burgeoning pipeline of young talent that was boosted at the trade deadline when the Mets decided to sell. 

Steve Cohen Mets Team Golf League
New York Mets owners Steve Cohen gestures while speaking during a news conference before a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday, June 28, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Now backed by the richest owner in North American sports, Stearns will have all of the tools necessary to begin developing the Mets into what Cohen was always looking for: A sustainable contender and an Eastern version of the perennial force that is the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

But what will be just as important is creating the right environment in the clubhouse, and the 38-year-old has a sterling reputation for being an approachable, outstanding communicator that ballplayers will love working for.

“I loved the atmosphere he created,” Narvaez said of Stearns. “I hope he does the same here because there’s a lot of talent here.”

For more on David Stearns and the Mets, visit AMNY.com