Chicago Cubs hire Craig Counsell away from division-rival Milwaukee Brewers

Craig Counsell is reportedly heading to the Cubs. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
Craig Counsell is reportedly heading to the Cubs. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

The Milwaukee Brewers allowed manager Craig Counsell to test the market, and now one of their biggest rivals will benefit. The Chicago Cubs hired Counsell as their next manager, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

The team confirmed the news and announced the firing of David Ross in a statement Monday.

The moves come as a major surprise.

Counsell, a free agent, was exploring other managerial opportunities, and it was assumed that he would choose between the Brewers and the New York Mets. The Mets, however, announced New York Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza as their next manager on Monday, paving the way for Counsell to return to Milwaukee.

But that's not exactly what happened. With the Mets out of the picture, reports emerged that Counsell would join a team that currently has a manager under contract for the 2024 season. There was some thought that would be the Yankees, who announced that a surprise news conference would be held Tuesday.

Instead, Counsell opted for the Cubs. He should know the team well, as the Brewers and Cubs have squared off many times since Counsell was named the Brewers' manager ahead of the 2015 season. He has experienced plenty of success in the role. Counsell had a 707-625 record with the Brewers and led the team to five postseason appearances in nine years. Milwaukee nearly reached the World Series in 2018 but fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS in seven games.

It took quite a bit for the Cubs to lure Counsell to Chicago. He will reportedly receive the highest average salary of any manager in MLB history, per Jon Heyman, signing a five-year deal worth more than $40 million.

Cubs find replacement for David Ross

The move spells the end of David Ross' tenure with the Cubs. Ross was named the team's manager ahead of the 2020 season. He led the team to a 262-284 record over four seasons. The Cubs made the playoffs once under Ross but failed to win a game against the Miami Marlins in the 2020 NL wild-card series.

Ross agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Cubs in 2022 and is under contract for the 2024 MLB season. The Cubs will likely have to pay both Counsell and Ross in 2024, though Ross' salary could be off the books in 2025.

The Cubs reportedly worked quickly to make the move. Any team that wanted to speak to Counsell before Nov. 1 had to ask the Brewers for permission. The Cubs did not do that, meaning the team worked out a deal with Counsell in just a few days, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN.