The Chicago Cubs have fired their manager, David Ross, and hired Craig Counsell as the new manager. Counsell, the former Milwaukee Brewers manager, agreed to a record-setting five-year, $40 million contract with the Cubs.
This surprising move by the Cubs has shocked the baseball world. Many expected Counsell to return to Milwaukee or possibly join the New York Mets. The Cubs had previously expressed support for David Ross, stating that he was their preferred choice.
Counsell’s contract with the Brewers ended on October 31, and the Cubs wasted no time in expressing their interest and making an offer that broke the salary scale for current managers. The previous highest average annual salary for a manager was Terry Francona with the Cleveland Guardians at $4.5 million. Counsell, a former player and a prominent figure with the Major League Baseball Players Association during his 16-year playing career, advocated for higher managerial salaries during his free agency. The Cubs met his demands, more than doubling his previous salary of $3.5 million.
This hiring by the Cubs is reminiscent of their move in 2014 when they fired manager Rick Renteria in the middle of his contract and hired Joe Maddon, who led the team to a World Series title in 2016.
Craig Counsell’s appointment as the new manager brings a sense of urgency to the Cubs, who have aspirations of making it to the postseason. Counsell had a successful nine-year stint as the Brewers’ manager, winning three NL Central titles and leading the team to the playoffs in five of the past six years. The Cubs hope to replicate his success.
Counsell, a native of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, and a former Brewers player, holds the franchise records for the most wins (707) and playoff wins (seven). However, the Brewers have struggled in the postseason in recent years, going 1-8 since their 2018 NL Championship Series run.
Counsell’s experience with a low-payroll team like the Brewers and his track record made him a desirable choice for any team seeking a new manager. He was strongly linked to the New York Mets, but the Mets ultimately hired Carlos Mendoza instead.
The Cubs’ decision to hire Counsell is seen as a strategic move to improve the team, especially following their successful 2023 season, which included signing notable players like Dansby Swanson and Cody Bellinger.
The Cubs also have a promising farm system, with several young players expected to contribute to the team in 2024. Their roster includes Gold Glove winners and talented prospects, indicating a bright future.
In contrast, the Brewers face some uncertainty with key players potentially hitting free agency in the near future. However, their strong farm system may provide a pipeline of talent to fill any gaps.
The Cubs will formally introduce Craig Counsell as their new manager at Wrigley Field in the coming week.