The Chicago Cubs immediately reset all the expectations on Monday when the team hired Craig Counsell away from the Milwaukee Brewers.
For the Cubs, this is a process that began within the past week. Counsell's contract with the Milwaukee Brewers expired on November 1 and while teams such as the New York Mets and Cleveland Guardians asked the Brewers for permission to interview Counsell during October, the Cubs did not.
There were obvious reasons why the Cubs did not want to ask the Brewers for permission as that would have tipped their National League Central rival off to their pursuit.
However, it would seem unlikely that the Brewers would have matched the contract that the Cubs offered Counsell. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Cubs' deal with Counsell was the largest managerial contract in the history of Major League Baseball.
There was an expectation that Counsell was going to become the highest-paid manager in Major League Baseball but it was believed that would come through a deal with the Mets. Instead, the Cubs saw an opportunity to hire the best manager in baseball and they did not waste time in getting a deal.
One thing is clear, the expectations for the Cubs this off-season and entering the 2024 season have changed. The Cubs do not make this move if the team does not expect to open their contention window in full next season.
The Cubs offer an opportunity to Counsell that he did not have with the Brewers. The Brewers have never been a team to throw financial resources at their Major League Baseball team and while the Cubs have drawn criticism for their spending habits since 2018, the team does not make this move if they don't plan on being aggressive this off-season.