The Chicago Cubs paid Craig Counsell, their former rival and Milwaukee Brewers manager, $40 million on a five-year deal to betray an entire fanbase. As it turns out, $40 million was enough, as Counsell is expected to become the highest-paid manager in baseball history.
Counsell flirted with the Cleveland Guardians, Houston Astros and New York Mets, but ultimately decided on Chicago. The Cubs didn't get into the race until Nov. 1, and did so despite having a manager in tow in David Ross, who was tossed to the curb after Counsell was hired.
The Mets were seen as the frontrunners for Counsell this winter. David Stearns, a former executive with Milwaukee who hired Counsell in the first place, is the Mets new President of Baseball Operations. They certainly had the money to make this deal happen. Yet, New York went with Carlos Mendoza, the Yankees bench coach.
Even the Brewers, who know just how valuable Counsell can be, only offered their former manager about half of what the Cubs eventually gave him.
Why didn't the Brewers offer Craig Counsell more to stay in Milwaukee?
Matt Arnold and the Brewers must believe in the culture they have in place, and they surely have a replacement for Counsell in mind. To make an offer that's only roughly half of what Counsell was seeking is a bold move to begin with. That bold move becomes a stupid one if Milwaukee was blindsided by his choice.
$8 million per year may seem like a lot for a manager. However, if we apply the same standards to this year's free-agent class, $8 million is about as much as a team should expect to pay for a 1-WAR player. Counsell surely amounts to that in the dugout, though it's impossible to measure.
David Ross was decent, but Counsell is a measurable upgrade. The Cubs have big plans this offseason.