MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers announced Wednesday, Jan. 23 that David Stearns has been promoted to president of baseball operations and general manager and Rick Schlesinger to president of business operations. Brewers Chairman and Principal Owner Mark Attanasio says both received contract extensions in their new roles.
“David and Rick have developed processes and standards of excellence that are embraced by everyone in our organization,” Attanasio said. “David’s approach to acquiring, developing and retaining talent has been instrumental in our success, both on the field and in the front office, and we believe it has created a strong foundation that will continue to pay dividends in future years. On the business side, Rick’s commitment to elevate the Miller Park experience has led to one of the top fan environments in sports, and we see evidence of that in everything from attendance to growth in corporate partnerships. Together, David and Rick bring great vision to our leadership team. I congratulate both of them on their highly-deserved promotions.”
According to a news release from the Milwaukee Brewers, Stearns joined the organization in October of 2015 as General Manager. Under his leadership, the Brewers won 96 games (tied for most in franchise history) and a National League Central Division title in 2018. The team advanced past the Rockies in the NLDS and came within one game of reaching the World Series after falling to the Dodgers in the NLCS. The Brewers also earned Baseball America’s “Organization of the Year” Award for 2018.
Prior to the 2018 season, the news release from the Brewers says, Stearns orchestrated a series of moves that were key to the Brewers success. The moves included trading for outfielder Christian Yelich, who ultimately was named National League MVP after posting one of the most impressive seasons in franchise history. The team also acquired All-Star outfielder Lorenzo Cain, signing him to a five-year contract, and Jhoulys Chacín, who went on to lead the Brewers pitching staff in games started, innings pitched, strikeouts and wins.
According to the Brewers, Since becoming General Manager, Stearns has implemented an approach to build and retain talent across all levels of the organization with the goal of making an impact at the Major League level. Under Stearns and manager Craig Counsell, the Brewers have increased their win total in each season (2016-18), posting a 13-game improvement from 2016-17 (73 wins to 86) and a 10-game ascension in 2018 (96 wins).
“Since the day I took this job and moved to Milwaukee, I’ve felt privileged to live in this community, serve our passionate fan base, and help lead this organization,” Stearns said. “I’m thankful to Mark and our entire ownership group that I will continue to enjoy that privilege for years to come. The success we’ve enjoyed during my time with the Brewers stems from the hard work and skill of our entire front office staff, scouts, coaches, and, most importantly, our players. Collectively, we aspire to push our organization to yet unreached heights. I am also thrilled to share this news today with Rick, whose consistent guiding hand has allowed our business operation to achieve levels of success unheard of in markets our size.”
Prior to joining the Brewers, the team says Stearns spent three seasons (2013-15) with the Houston Astros as Assistant General Manager. In that role, he was a key member of the management team, focusing on all areas of baseball operations including analytics, administration, player development and scouting. During his tenure with Houston, the Astros put together one of Major League Baseball’s most dramatic turnarounds in recent history as they went from 51 wins in 2013 to 70 in 2014 and 86 in 2015 to clinch a Wild Card berth. Stearns also has held roles with the Cleveland Indians (2011-12) and Major League Baseball (2008-11).
Schlesinger is entering his 17th season with the Milwaukee Brewers, according to the news release, and has spent the last eight years as Chief Operating Officer. Schlesinger oversees the Club’s business affairs, including finance, human resources, information technology, legal, sponsorships, marketing, ticketing, communications, broadcasting and non-baseball special events. Additionally, he oversees the Phoenix Spring Training complex operation as well as the operations of the Brewers-owned Class-A Carolina Mudcats.
In nearly every aspect of the business, the Brewers have eclipsed records during Schlesinger’s tenure. In 2018, over 2.85 million fans attended games at Miller Park, representing the 11th time in the last 12 seasons that the organization has exceeded the 2.5 million attendance mark. The team has sold in excess of 2.3 million tickets for 13 consecutive seasons, making the Brewers one of just eight Major League teams to reach that level each year since 2006.
“The foundation of our business operation is the quality of the fan and partner experience, and I’m grateful to Mark for giving us the resources to enhance those areas every year, Schlesinger said. “I also have the highest appreciation for the work that David and his Baseball Operations team does to put a high-performing team on the field. David and I both understand the importance of our two disciplines working together as one, cohesive unit, and we embrace that approach throughout the organization.”
Under Schlesinger’s guidance, the Club has enhanced the fan experience at Miller Park on numerous fronts. In 2017, the Brewers initiated a complete transformation of the food and beverage hospitality experience, which marked the largest Club-funded project in the history of Miller Park. Those efforts were honored with the 2017 Ballpark Digest Award for Best New Concessions Experience.
The most significant investment for 2019 is the renovation and complete rebuild of the Arizona-based facility, Brewers Fields of Phoenix. The $60-plus million project includes a new clubhouse building with locker rooms and vastly improved facilities for all of the baseball operations functions. It also features a wide array of fan enhancements from new concessions, retail stores, seating and scoreboard.
Prior to joining the Brewers, Schlesinger served as Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs/Assistant General Manager for the Anaheim Angels from 1998-2002 after previously working in motion picture development and production for Walt Disney Pictures and Television.