Mets mogul Steve Cohen may have been bluffing about his intentions to build a Dodgers-like machine in New York when he took the reins initially. But if he's able to take a David Stearns acquisition to the finish line, that outlook might actually become a reality.
Take 1 didn't go so well. Cohen hired Billy Eppler away from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to navigate his personnel decisions and decide how to spend the head honcho's money. Despite his proclamations that he planned to build something sustainable, he instead cut the line with ungodly amounts of spending. Cohen answered the question, "Could God himself make a payroll so large that even He couldn't furnish it?" by trading Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer midway through a disastrous 2023, crafting a fun, new way to buy a farm system on the fly.
Now, the misbegotten Mets might get a second chance at building what Andrew Friedman's already created in LA. The Dodgers are a behemoth that still spends on prime-age superstars like Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, waiting ready for any unforeseen opportunity to steal someone else's finished product, but they also have a pipeline of future stars of their own lurking before their surface.
David Stearns, formerly at the helm of the Milwaukee Brewers, might be a more exciting free agent than any non-Ohtani asset this offseason. As one rival executive told The Athletic, the immediate expectations would be a Dodgers-like sustainability machine if he landed in New York, even with Cohen's bloated financial ledgers at his disposal.
Stearns is officially in the process of navigating his future, able to meet with interested teams since Aug. 1. The Mets are reportedly somewhere down the line with him, and the Astros have also made contact (though such a deal might chase current personnel head Dana Brown away). Neither half of that sentence is music to the Dodgers' ears.
Mets could hire David Stearns in latest attempt to compete with Dodgers
Of course, it's not that easy. Plenty of teams have declared their intentions to be "the next Dodgers" over the years, one of which was the Mets, who put forth a bid that's already failed. Stearns' Brewers, while not armed to the teeth with the same payroll, were able to patch together playoff teams made up of sterling pitching, analytics darlings, and slapdash veterans having the time of their lives, but never advanced past ... the Dodgers.
Stearns is a brilliant baseball mind, but having a savvy executive doesn't help even the finest teams -- even the modern Dodgers! -- overcome the randomness of a short series. The Mets don't even have Stearns yet! He might still head to the Astros, a franchise that's been smiled upon by the fates far more often than the boys from Flushing.
Cohen may have already reneged on his World Series guarantee, realizing the pursuit is ... hard, and the promise won't be that much easier to fulfill with Stearns at the helm. Still, short of Theo Epstein, adding the ex-Brewer is one of the biggest sustainability swings an organization can take, and his presence would certainly be more intimidating in the grand scheme than Eppler's.
Hopefully, for the Dodgers' sake, we're right back here in two years talking about how the Mets can woo Friedman himself for a third bite at the apple.