4 former Brewers free agents who could still reunite with Craig Counsell in Chicago

Could the Cubs bring more than Counsell to Chicago from Milwaukee? These free agents could certainly help the Cubs take the next step.

Chicago Cubs Introduce Craig Counsell as Manager
Chicago Cubs Introduce Craig Counsell as Manager / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages
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The Chicago Cubs shocked Major League Baseball when they fired their fan-favorite manager only to hire their NL Central rival manager away.

David Ross was fired to make way for former Milwaukee Brewers skipper Craig Counsell, who had been with the Brewers since 2015. As the offseason wraps up, could the Cubs attract free agents from the Brewers to help Counsell succeed in his first season with his new team?

The free agency market should be heating up with Spring Training around the corner. Several free agents — with ties to Counsell and the Brewers — could fit the Cubs' remaining needs. A first baseman and pitching top the Cubs' wish list.

4. Brandon Woodruff could reunite with Counsell in Chicago

Counsell is the only manager Woodruff has ever worked with as a Major Leaguer. He is 46-26 for his career, which began in 2017. He started 11 games in 2023, going 5-1 with an ERA of 2.28 over 67 innings. He threw 74 strikeouts.

Woodruff was granted free agency after being non-tendered by the Brewers for the 2024 season. He has been dealing with shoulder issues and could start the season on the injured list. While a stunning amount of pitching is still available, the risk may be high for teams looking into the right handed arm.

The Cubs rotation includes Kyle Hendricks, Justin Steele, Jameson Tallion, Shota Imanaga, and Javier Assad. Counsell may want to shake things up and request the club sign Woodruff, a pitcher he is very familiar with, to be a mid to late-rotation arm for depth.

3. Carlos Santana could reunite with Counsell in Chicago

The Cubs need an experienced first baseman, and what better candidate than a veteran slugger?

Santana has been in the league for 13 seasons and slashed .242/.356/.432 with an OPS of .787. He's knocked 301 home runs in that time. He split time between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Brewers in 2023, which makes him familiar with the NL Central. He hit .240/.318/.429 in 2023 with a .747 OPS and 23 home runs. These are impressive numbers for PNC Park and American Family Field. Imagine what he could do in a full season at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs could sign Santana on a one-year deal to get them through this season, hoping to land one of the top free-agent first basemen in 2025. The Cubs have Patrick Wisdom as their lone first baseman on their depth chart, this must differ from what Counsell and the Cubs want at this critical position going into his first season.

Getting Santana would allow a seasoned first baseman to dazzle the Cubs faithful fanbase. Additionally, Christopher Morel could have a solid veteran to shadow and pick his brain as the youngster develops.