SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Mets will not hire a general manager this offseason following Billy Eppler’s “fairly stunning” resignation last month, David Stearns said Tuesday.
His to-do list includes finalizing the hiring of manager Carlos Mendoza, filling out a coaching staff and of course a full offseason of player moves, including rebuilding most of the pitching staff. So deciding on a clear No. 2 baseball executive can wait.
“We've got enough going on right now,” Stearns, the president of baseball operations, said. “We've got a front office grouping that is working well together, we're learning each other. Frankly, that’s a (GM) process that requires immense time, and so we'll tackle that at a different point.”
In the Mets’ case, a lack of a formal GM doesn’t much impact their ability to function. Stearns is the boss, acting as what historically would be considered a general manager, just with a fancier title.
Owner Steve Cohen’s intention when he hired Stearns was to keep Eppler. As he said at Stearns’ introductory news conference last month, with Stearns and Eppler, “one and one equals three” because the job of running a baseball team is so complicated.
Three days later, Eppler quit amid an MLB investigation into the Mets’ alleged misuse of the injured list. Commissioner Rob Manfred said recently he expects that investigation to be complete by the end of the year.
Stearns said he didn’t know whether MLB’s inquiry — and any potential punishment — will impact the Mets. But he was caught off guard when he learned Eppler was out.
“That entire week was a little of a blur and clearly not what any of us had anticipated and certainly not what I had anticipated,” Stearns said. “As we got toward the end of that week and we moved past, we realized we had jobs to do and as an organization we needed to move forward. I'm really proud of the front office group, many of whom didn’t know me that well at that point but were extremely professional and responsible and helped us move forward.”
A hole in the intended hierarchy creates opportunity for other upper-level executives, a dynamic similar to the one Stearns said he experienced — and benefitted from — early in his career at MLB.
“Other people are going to have to step up,” Stearns said. “It means we're going to ask other people in our front office to take on additional responsibility . . . People can step up in these situations, and I think we have a group that’s very capable of doing it.”
One front-office addition the Mets are making: Eduardo Brizuela, who had been a vice president/special assistant to the GM for the Brewers, for whom he had worked since 2009. He will be a special assistant to Stearns.