I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that we're all still shocked by Craig Counsell's decision to manage the Chicago Cubs, but the largest managerial contract in MLB history worth $40 million is seemingly not the enticing thing Chicago's North side club had to offer.
According to multiple reports from baseball insiders like MLB Network's Jon Heyman and 670 The Score's David Haugh, Counsell wanted to come to Chicago to manage the Cubs.
Considering reports about Counsell interviewing with both the New York Mets and the Cleveland Guardians, while there wasn't so much as a peep about the Cubs talking to him, this is a little shocking, to say the least. Counsell is a Milwaukee native and he also had the opportunity to reunite with his former General Manager David Stearns, who left the Brewers to become the Mets' President of Baseball Operations last October. He had very good reasons to either stay where he was or go to New York.
On the Cubs side, nobody was expecting the team to move on from David Ross this year and that is just a fact. Even after the embarrassing collapse, the team sustained in September, Ross received glowing reviews from President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer and owner Tom Ricketts.
But something changed in the last month, and probably the last six days. Since Counsell's contract technically expired on October 31st, he couldn't talk to other teams without the Brewers' permission until the 1st of November, meaning this all went down very quickly. At some point in the last week, the Cubs took a good hard look at their situation and concluded that Counsell is a better guy to manage the Cubs than Ross. And the fact that Counsell wanted to manage here definitely played a major factor and it isn't hard to see why.
The Cubs are on the rise right now with a top 3 farm system in MLB and a scrappy roster that only narrowly missed the playoffs. Counsell could take this team and bring them to the next level with his superb bullpen and lineup management that has consistently made the Brewers a contender.
Counsell also won't have to manage a team in the bottom half in terms of payroll anymore and if his lucrative contract is proof enough that the Cubs are ready to spend money, just look at the last few offseasons. The Cubs inked shortstop Dansby Swanson to a $177 million deal, and Seiya Suzuki to an $85 million contract and gave contract extensions to Ian Happ and Nico Hoerner. This doesn't guarantee big moves to come, but with one of the best managers in baseball now helming their ball club, the Cubs' chances are certainly better.
Everything is now in place for the Cubs to make some serious noise this offseason and the future looks very bright with Counsell slated to be around for the next five years. Even if there isn't a huge offseason splash, Counsell's tenure in Milwaukee proves he can excel at getting the most out of his roster no matter how it looks on paper.