As the primary full week of the MLB offseason kicked off — and with it, the overall managers conferences in Scottsdale, Arizona — the calculus for Craig Counsell appeared to be as follows:
Even earlier than the season ended, he was extensively identified to be a extremely coveted — maybe the most extremely coveted — supervisor, the rare coach to garner impending free-agent intrigue. After 9 years together with his hometown Milwaukee Brewers, Counsell’s contract had run out, and will he need to proceed managing, he would have choices.
The Brewers would need him again. There appeared to be little query whether or not Milwaukee would attempt to retain Counsell. In 2015, he took over a middling Brewers membership that then posted a .531 profitable proportion beneath his skippership and made the postseason 5 of the previous six years.
He loves Milwaukee. In April, Counsell turned the franchise leader in games managed for the team located 15 minutes from where he and his wife grew up, attended highschool and proceed to stay. He ended his enjoying profession with the Brewers, and they’re the one staff he has labored for since retiring as a participant.
The massive-money Mets have been additionally very considering him. Counsell’s former boss, David Stearns, returned from his single-season sabbatical to take over baseball operations for his hometown New York Mets. And as soon as Buck Showalter was dismissed after Year 2 of his three-year contract, the staff was in want of a brand new supervisor.
With staff proprietor Steve Cohen’s deep pockets, the Mets have been determined to get it proper after biking by 4 managers over the previous 5 seasons. And with Stearns’ familiarity with Counsell, the supervisor’s alternative appeared to be between prioritizing consolation and residential to remain within the small-market Milwaukee space or entering into the highlight to take over a staff with higher monetary sources.
As a substitute, Counsell discovered a solution to do each: make more cash and, presumably, have more cash at his disposal with out leaving the Midwest. After reportedly interviewing with the Cleveland Guardians and eliciting at the very least some curiosity from the Houston Astros, Counsell ended up with a staff nobody appeared to comprehend was even available in the market for a brand new supervisor.
The Chicago Cubs will make Counsell the highest-paid manager in Major League Baseball — and supply him the soundness he clearly values — by reportedly giving him a five-year, $40 million contract to succeed David Ross, whom they fired Monday to make room.
Should you needed to award winners and losers of this bombshell transfer, Counsell would emerge clearly on prime. His esteem throughout the trade afforded him the chance to be picky a couple of job that’s finest identified for being unstable and extremely aggressive.
Moderately than return for a tenth season with Milwaukee, which reportedly was unwilling to go above $5.5 million per 12 months, Counsell will take over a membership that completed 9 video games again of the Brewers in 2023 — however with a greater run differential and a payroll that was greater than $60 million larger.
For the Cubs, that is eerily just like the coup they pulled off after the 2014 season, after they employed Joe Maddon — additionally on a five-year deal — after his profitable stint in Tampa. That, too, required dismissing a supervisor, Rick Renteria, who had time left on his contract, however as Chicago followers will nicely keep in mind: It labored.
The 2016 championship membership was the final nice Cubs staff. That core didn’t repeat, and as these gamers dispersed lately, the staff has failed to determine methods to totally transition to the following profitable iteration. Ross, who was the staff’s catcher in 2016, had been certainly one of few remaining connections, together with beginning pitcher Kyle Hendricks.
However final winter, beneath president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer, the Cubs dedicated $300 million to free brokers in an effort to contend once more — they usually did, overcoming a slow start to be buyers at the deadline till a September collapse noticed them end one sport out of the NL wild-card image.
They’ve since misplaced comeback player of the year Cody Bellinger and their finest pitcher within the first half, Marcus Stroman, to free agency. So the Cubs want extra expertise — but when they get it, Counsell is the proper individual to benefit from it. With the St. Louis Cardinals left making an attempt to make sense of their disastrous 2023 season and the Brewers reeling from the lack of not solely Counsell but in addition Brandon Woodruff, who is likely to miss all of next season after shoulder surgery, the NL Central is a wide-open discipline. The thrilling, younger Cincinnati Reds definitely figuring themselves gamers as nicely. Nonetheless, there’s no motive the Cubs can’t muscle their solution to the highest of the projections with daring strikes. Bringing within the consensus prime supervisor on a document contract is an effective first step — so long as there may be extra to come back.
For the Brewers, that is clearly a blow. It’s at all times a bit of tough to inform what the staff’s ambition relies on the roster, provided that their success has usually come from out-performing their participant expertise (at the very least within the common season). That’s exactly why the supervisor and entrance workplace obtained a lot credit score throughout Milwaukee’s latest run. It’ll be fascinating to see whom Matt Arnold, in command of baseball operations since Stearns stepped down, identifies as somebody who can emulate Counsell’s skill to maximise the staff’s potential.
In all of this, the Mets are maybe essentially the most complicated aspect to judge. Their relationship to Counsell was at all times certainly one of hope — that he would finish the revolving door of managers and be an unstoppable power when paired with Cohen’s cash. It appeared like a easy sufficient system for achievement: man who was good with few sources given entry to way more. The trigger for optimism was apparent.
However even when Counsell thought of private elements — akin to staying near residence — in selecting the Cubs, the Mets nonetheless ought to’ve been a horny vacation spot for obtainable managers. Cohen can afford to pay handsomely, Stearns was getting his first alternative to hand-pick a skipper after inheriting (and sticking by) Counsell in Milwaukee, and the staff is chock-full of expertise — even when the query of rivalry as quickly as 2024 is a murky one. So whereas it appears stunning that they went with Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza, reported simply earlier than it was identified that Counsell would go to Chicago, the Mets should’ve recognized one thing about him that appeared particularly promising.
However for each Mendoza and Counsell, the important thing to their success going ahead shall be how their respective golf equipment method the remainder of the offseason. Even the perfect supervisor is simply a great begin.