MLB Rumors: Braves-Sonny Gray buzz, Cubs linked to ace, Astros poaching manager

  • The Astros are linked to a hot commodity in the managerial market.
  • Are the Chicago Cubs a viable candidate for this free-agent starting pitcher?
  • The Atlanta Braves have a viable free agency target in Sonny Gray.
Oct 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) pitches
Oct 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) pitches / Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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Astros reportedly interested in Craig Counsell

The Houston Astros blew a 3-2 lead in the American League Championship Series and lost in Game 7 to the Texas Rangers. While most of their main pieces will return next season, they need a new manager. Dusty Baker, who took over as their manager in 2020 and led the team to one World Series title and two AL pennants, announced his retirement from managing. Now, they have to find someone to replace him. It shouldn't be hard, considering how the roster is set for the future.

But who are the Astros looking at to replace Baker?

According to Curt Hogg of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Astros have expressed interest in Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell, but notes "it's unclear how serious their pursuit would be."

While it's unknown how much the Astros are willing to pursue Counsell, there are two teams that have already interviewed him -- the New York Mets and Cleveland Guardians.

Counsell's contract with the Brewers officially ran out on Oct. 31, which means he is now a free agent as of this writing.

The Mets have long been linked to Counsell. The team was looking to hire David Stearns, the Brewers' former president of baseball operations, for the same role ever since Steve Cohen officially bought the team in 2020. Just before the end of the 2023 season, the Mets officially hired Stearns. Given the working relationship between the two, Counsell is an obvious top choice as manager.

Meanwhile, the Guardians are looking to replace Terry Francona, who retired after this season. There was a lengthy list of external candidates, which included Seattle Mariners bullpen coach Stephen Vogt, Los Angeles Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough, New York Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza, San Francisco Giants bullpen coach Craig Albernaz, and Counsell.

According to MLB Network Jon Morosi reports Counsell is evaluating his options, including returning to the Brewers. Morosi also reports that Counsell is more likely to manage in 2024 than take the year off.

Unless the Astros call Counsell in for an interview, it appears they are on the outside looking in.