This is an Earth-shattering turn of events, for the whole NL Central. Counsell's departure forces the Crew to find a new manager, of course, but his defection to the North Siders instantly makes that team a greater and more formidable threat to win the division title next year, too. This is a double whammy, and will make the next few weeks and months immensely important (and immensely unpredictable) for the Brewers.
Right away, the news we had to expect has come: Counsell will be the highest-paid manager, not just in 2024, but in baseball history. He'll make more than $40 million on a five-year contract, one that soars far beyond even what the Cubs did to land Joe Maddon almost a decade ago.
Counsell getting five-year contract from Cubs worth more than $40M, league sources tell @TheAthletic. Will be highest-paid manager.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 6, 2023
This has to alter the Brewers' offseason plans. The only questions are how much, and in what ways. Will the emotion and stakes of Counsell departing for a division rival and geographical neighbor incite a reactionary push by Mark Attanasio and Matt Arnold, or will this accelerate the move toward a transitional period for the Crew? Corbin Burnes's odds of getting traded and WIlly Adames's of signing an extension have certainly changed today. We just can't say, yet, in which direction.
We have, too, to worry about who might follow Counsell (and/or David Stearns) out of town. Could the Cubs pick off Chris Hook, and promote either him or incumbent pitching coach Tommy Hottovy to replace the front-office pitching brain power they lost when Craig Breslow left them to run the Red Sox? Could they pilfer Charlie Green, Walker McKinven, or Nestor Corredor, the tripartite catching genius that has fueled the Crew's wildly valuable edge in pitch framing in recent years? The danger of a real brain drain just redoubled, after Stearns's departure had already spiked it.
We knew the Brewers were offering to make Counsell the highest-paid manager in baseball, but as several reporters have now laid out, they never went into the neighborhood of the deal the Cubs dropped onto the table to lure him away. Whether they should have will certainly be a matter of lasting debate, depending on how the next half-decade goes for each of these two teams, but no team has ever done quite as much to commit to a manager (or assigned them an explicit value on par with a lineup regular) as the Cubs just did. The Brewers were willing to top the existing market. The Cubs were willing to create a new one.
The Brewers offered Craig Counsell in the neighborhood of $5.5 million per season, which would have easily made him the highest-paid manager in MLB.— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) November 6, 2023
Everyone expected the Mets to throw $7 million per season (or more) at Counsell.
No one expected the Cubs to do so.
Who do you want to see take over? Does this change what you want to see the Crew do this winter? Let's begin the conversation.
Think you could write a story like this? Brewer Fanatic wants you to develop your voice, find an audience, and we'll pay you to do it. Just fill out this form.