MILWAUKEE (AP)Matt Arnold has spent over two decades working for a handful of different major league organizations as he awaited the opportunity to run a franchise’s baseball operations.
That time has come as Arnold tries to help the Milwaukee Brewers resume their string of playoff appearances that ended this season and eventually win their first World Series title.
Arnold is the Brewers’ new president of baseball operations now that David Stearns has stepped down to take an advisory role with the organization. Arnold had been working under Stearns with the Brewers since October 2015.
”I think we certainly share a lot of values, which is why we work well together,” Arnold said during a Thursday news conference. ”I think I might do things a little bit differently, but by and large, the success here has been a teamwork relationship. I don’t envision changing a lot here meaningfully in terms of philosophy going forward.”
Arnold, 43, worked alongside Stearns as Milwaukee made a franchise-record four straight playoff appearances, a streak that ended this season when the Brewers went 86-76 and finished a game behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the National League’s final wild-card berth.
”Matt is a premier executive,” Stearns said. ”He has declined outside opportunities – multiple outside opportunities – to remain committed to the Brewers.”
Arnold joined the Brewers as assistant general manager in 2015 and became general manager in November 2020, though Stearns continued to oversee baseball operations.
”The way I look at it is you have a pilot and a co-pilot, and now the co-pilot is sliding over to the lead pilot’s seat,” principal owner Mark Attanasio said. ”He knows how to fly the plane.”
Stearns often described his own strategy by saying he wanted the Brewers to take as many ”bites of the apple” as possible because staying competitive year in and year out eventually would lead to a deep postseason run.
That approach helped the Brewers reach the postseason every year from 2018-21 but came under scrutiny this season when they traded four-time All-Star closer Josh Hader while leading the NL Central. The Brewers acquired two prospects who could help down the road in outfielder Esteury Ruiz and pitcher Robert Gasser, but the move weakened their bullpen in the short term.
Arnold was asked Thursday about his own approach and whether it’s best to make sure a team reaches the playoffs as many years as possible or to go all-in during a particular season.
”I think that’s a real conversation I think I need to have with Mark and also realize where we are from an organizational standpoint with the assets that we have, what we need to do over the next several years to remain competitive here,” Arnold said. ”Look, that could take a whole bunch of different pathways, and sometimes you’re presented with things that you didn’t expect to see happen. … We just need to be opportunistic. And ultimately, I think that will lead us to a World Series.”
Arnold has plenty of work to do.
The Brewers have 18 players eligible for arbitration. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen, catcher Omar Narvaez, utilityman Jace Peterson and relievers Taylor Rogers and Trevor Rosenthal are free agents. The Brewers must decide whether to pick up a $10 million option on second baseman Kolten Wong and a $3 million option on reliever Brad Boxberger.
Arnold will make those decisions while relying on a background that includes plenty of different stops. Arnold noted that he’s worked with 10 different general managers.
He spent nearly five seasons with the Cincinnati Reds (2003-06) and nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays (2007-15) before coming to Milwaukee. His career also included brief stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers (2000) and Texas Rangers (2002).
”I’ve been doing this for now over 20 years. Worn a lot of hats in the game,” Arnold said. ”I feel like I’m ready for this. But that being said, these are enormous jobs. . It takes a huge team to be successful here. And that’s what we have. And that’s a huge credit to David, and the foundation that he’s built here.”
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