It was just a few short days ago that Milwaukee Brewers President of Baseball Operations David Stearns announced that he was stepping down from his role, seeking a chance to take a breath and explore new opportunities under the final year of his contract. Many assumed that this meant he would be finding a new team to run shortly.
In response, the Brewers named Matt Arnold as the head of Baseball Operations now, although he has not been promoted to Stearns' old title of President. In the press conference announcing the change, Stearns emphatically stated that he would be staying in Milwaukee in his new advisory role. But for how long?
It's well known that the New York Mets covet Stearns, but another team that would love to see him back is the Houston Astros, the team the Brewers hired Stearns away from back in 2015, They just won the World Series and GM James Click is a lame duck on an expiring contract. Astros owner Jim Crane announced an extension for manager Dusty Baker, but not Click.
There have been rumors of discontent between the trio of Crane, Click, and Baker in Houston, despite all their success. Click could build a World Series winner and still be shown the door. If they make a change in their front office and move on from Click, their obvious target will be David Stearns.
It seems as if the Astros want to give Click just a one year contract. Click, who just won the World Series, is seeking some more long-term security given his success. If he doesn't get the contract he wants, Click could just leave and find a new job elsewhere. His contract is expired. That would leave the Astros without an immediate replacement.
That's where David Stearns comes in.
Stearns would be a ready-made replacement if the Astros choose to move on from Click. He's experienced, he's successful, and he is familiar with the Astros as they're familiar with him. The reason for the one year contract offer for Click is most likely because they want to try for the Stearns Sweepstakes in 2023. It would be easiest to do it then because Stearns' contract would be up and he's free to move about without needing permission and he'll have gotten the break he's seeking.
But James Click could blow up those plans in Houston with his desire for a long-term contract. After all, why make it easier on your boss to replace you? He wants the long-term deal he deserves. That's fair. Jim Crane it appears is trying to line up a replacement executive. If Click insists on a multi-year contract or he walks away right now, the Astros may be forced to court David Stearns earlier than planned and that could lead to Stearns turning them down. Then the Astros would have to find someone else, and then what, fire them after one year to pursue Stearns? Hard to sell a candidate on that.
The course of action the Astros might have to take, if getting Stearns in 2023 is their plan, is to give Click the multi-year contract he's seeking and then they can fire him after next season.
At this point, I wouldn't anticipate Stearns being pulled away from his advisory role in Milwaukee between now and the end of next season. But the Astros are a team to watch in pursuit of Stearns, and if it comes to pass that James Click is out the door in Houston, they could pull out all the stops to hire Stearns away from the Brewers.