The Chicago Cubs have hired former Milwaukee Brewers manager, Craig Counsell, as their new manager this week.
In a surprising move for the Cubs, they signed Counsell to a five-year contract worth over $40 million, making him the highest paid manager in Major League Baseball history — both by annual average value and total value. Counsell was the manager for the Brewers from 2015 through the 2023 season, when his contract expired. There were rumors of Counsell possibly going to manage the New York Mets, Cleveland Guardians or returning to Milwaukee, but there was little to no reporting about him going to the Cubs until Monday, Nov. 6, when Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic broke the news.
Prior to Nov. 1, when Counsell’s contract expired with the Brewers, teams would’ve needed to request the Brewers’ permission to interview him for a job with their organization. According to The Athletic, the Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations, Jed Hoyer, was the only person from the Cubs to meet with Counsell and a deal was done by Sunday, Nov. 5.
During Counsell’s time as manager of the Brewers, he compiled a record of 707 wins and 625 losses and three National League Central titles, and he led the Brewers all the way to game seven of the NL Championship Series in 2018.
The hiring of Counsell came as a surprise since Cubs former manager David Ross was under contract until 2024 with an option for 2025. The team announced the firing of Ross on Monday, Nov. 6, with a statement reading, “On behalf of the Cubs organization, we express our deep gratitude for David’s contributions to our club, both on and off the field.”
Before being hired as the Cubs manager, Ross was a key player when the team won theWorld Series title in 2016. In the regular season, Ross hit .229 with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs as the Cubs backup catcher, and in the 2016 postseason, he hit .250 with two home runs and four RBIs, including a home run in game seven of the World Series, making him the oldest player to homer in a game seven in World Series history.
During Ross’s time as Cubs manager, he posted a record of 262 wins and 284 losses, which included an NL Central title in the 2020 season but were swept out of the playoffs that year by the Miami Marlins.
After being fired on Monday, Ross told the Tallahassee Democrat in an interview how thankful he was for his time as Cubs manager.
“There was a lot of people who worked really hard alongside me,” Ross told the Tallahassee Democrat. “I am really thankful for the four years I got, coming from zero coaching experience to getting the chance to manage such a great organization that has impacted my life in a great way. There’s great people there. I really don’t have a whole lot negative to say, to be honest,”
This move also mirrors what the Cubs did in 2014, when they parted ways with then manager, Rick Renteria, and brought in Joe Maddon to manage. He helped the Cubs go to the playoffs three times and consistently posted records above .500.
With the hiring of Counsell, many are expecting the Cubs to make a run at the playoffs in 2024, after coming up short in the 2023 season, posting an 83-79 record.
With a free agent market that features former AL Cy Young Winner Blake Snell and two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, among many other players, the Cubs will be looking to make a run for the NL Central title in 2024 with a new manager at the helm.