Craig Counsell is the free agent that the Chicago Cubs have to prioritize

As the Chicago Cubs look to become a legitimate World Series contender in 2024, manager Craig Counsell is the free agent that the team must prioritize this winter.

Milwaukee Brewers v Texas Rangers
Milwaukee Brewers v Texas Rangers / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

By the time that the 2014 season concluded, it was clear that the Chicago Cubs would be ready to contend in 2015. That was the driving force for the front office's decision that winter to part ways with manager Ricky Renteria and hire Joe Maddon, who had been made available by the Tampa Bay Rays.

The perfect manager became at the perfect time for the Cubs and it would have been malpractice if the front office did not make the move that they did.

Fast forward to this season and the Cubs have once again arrived a year ahead of schedule. There is a strong chance that the 2023 Cubs will make the post-season but there are still several factors that keep the team from entering the category of being a legitimate World Series contender.

One of those factors that will hold the Cubs back is manager David Ross. Ross does deserve some credit for putting this team in a position to make the post-season but this season has also proven that the front office has to Ross-proof this roster. Despite the negative values that veterans Tucker Barnhart, Eric Hosmer, and Trey Mancini had when in the starting lineup for the Cubs, Ross continued to turn to each player in moments when there were better options.

The front office finally had to step in and release each of those three players to prevent further damage from being done.

As the Cubs continue to look for the right levers to pull as their contention window opens fully next season, there is a free agent that the team must prioritize this winter.

That free agent is current Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell. The Brewers have ended contract negotiations with Counsell and that means he will be a free agent this winter.

If Counsell does indeed reach this winter without having a new contract with the Brewers, there is no question that the Cubs will need to make a call.

Counsell, as much as Cubs fans may not want to hear it, is the best manager in Major League Baseball. This is not an opportunity that comes around often when a team is on the doorstep of being a World Series contender and the right manager becomes available. The last time that happened, the Cubs won the World Series a year after hiring Maddon as their manager.

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