In a surprising turn of events in the Craig Counsell saga, the Milwaukee Brewers may end up having a new manager in 2024 after all.
Counsell wanted to push contract talks until after the 2023 season to weigh his options and has reportedly been considering family and resetting the managerial pay scale as part of his motivations for his contract talks. All the while, it still felt like he would be returning to Milwaukee for 2024.
Now, that may be changing.
Andy Martino of SNY is reporting that the Brewers gave the Mets permission to interview Craig Counsell for their managerial opening.
This is not a good sign for Craig Counsell returning to Milwaukee next year.
Martino went on to iterate that this is NOT a done deal and that Counsell will explore other opportunities besides the Mets and including the Brewers. The Mets will interview other candidates as well.
Still, that news isn't quite comforting because the Brewers being willing to allow the Mets to interview Counsell indicates that they aren't progressing on a new contract. Allowing your incumbent manager to interview with other teams, especially one as coveted as Counsell, is going to lead to them offering your manager a contract.
The Padres allowed their manager, Bob Melvin, to interview for the Giants opening and within two days Melvin was named the Giants' next manager. The Mets will be rolling out the red carpet and a whole lot of money that will be tough for Counsell to turn down.
For years, the Mets tried to interview David Stearns and the Brewers denied them the chance every time. Now, they're giving permission to the Mets to interview Counsell before his contract even expires. Why? There's a possible reasonable explanation.
Perhaps this is all a part of wanting to do right by Counsell and letting him explore his options like he'd be able to do in a week anyway. If Counsell isn't going to sign a new deal with the Brewers without exploring other options on the market first, not giving permission would only delay the process by a week. Then if Counsell decides to leave, the Brewers will be looking for a manager very late in the hiring cycle and the top candidates could very well get hired elsewhere already.
Also, Counsell could be looking to see what his value is from other teams, see what their contract offers are, and then return to the Brewers to give them the opportunity to match. Counsell is likely to end up the highest paid manager in baseball next year and since he's arguably the best manager in baseball, that makes sense. By going about it this way, Counsell can be sure he's getting the best possible salary out there.
For a while, it felt like Counsell was going to be returning to Milwaukee. Now, after this report, it's beginning to feel like Counsell will not be back in a Brewers uniform next year.