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Report: Craig Counsell is now the manager of the Chicago Cubs

Craig Counsell (left) stands with Christian Yelich on Sept. 15 as Yelich receives his Roberto Clemente Award nomination.
Milwaukee Brewers / Facebook
Craig Counsell (left) stands with Christian Yelich on Sept. 15 as Yelich receives his Roberto Clemente Award nomination.

In a development that very appropriately seemed to come from way out in left field, Craig Counsell has decided to join the Chicago Cubs as their next manager, leaving behind the Milwaukee Brewers after nine seasons in charge.

The news was first reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who was informed by Major League Baseball sources that Counsell will become the highest-paid manager ever in the sport at a cost of $40 million over five years. As of this writing, it’s unknown whether the Brewers had a chance to match the offer.

In his nine seasons, Counsell became the Brewers' most successful manager of all time with a franchise-record 707 wins, three National League Central titles and playoff appearances in five of the last six years. He stepped into the role after a playing career that spanned 1,624 games and included two World Series titles: 1997 with the Marlins and 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

It was widely reported during the run-up to Counsell’s managerial free agency that he took very seriously the opportunity to set a new market for the role as far as compensation goes. It was equally well known that he had attracted interest from several teams, going so far as to interview with the Cleveland Guardians and New York Mets. Saying the Cubs were a dark horse in the chase is an understatement considering they weren’t even mentioned until Monday morning. But, clearly, their involvement wasn’t a passing fancy.

One of the reasons for Chicago’s exclusion from candidates was that it still has a manager: David Ross, who is under contract through the 2024 season. Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer addressed the situation in a statement Monday:

Today we made the difficult decision to dismiss David Ross as our Major League Manager. On behalf of the Cubs organization, we express our deep gratitude for David’s contributions to our club, both on and off the field. First as a player and then as a manager, David continually showcased his ability to lead. David’s legacy will be felt in Chicago for generations and his impact to our organization will stack up with the legends that came before him. Going forward, our Major League team will be managed by Craig Counsell. We look forward to welcoming Craig at Wrigley Field early next week.

As of this writing, the Brewers had yet to release an official statement regarding their managerial vacancy, although it had been reported recently that the team had begun the interview process for a potential Counsell replacement. Curt Hogg, Brewers beat reporter for the Journal Sentinel, was able to reach principal owner Mark Attanasio, whose responses included a particularly emotional one: