The Brewers biggest pending free agent this offseason isn't anyone on the 26 man roster. It's the man leading them, manager Craig Counsell. His contract status is causing rumors to swirl.
Craig Counsell is in the final year of his contract. The Brewers tried to discuss an extension with him but Counsell wanted to wait until after the season to talk contract. It's been reported and believed by many that he's wanting to spend more time with family and watch his sons play college baseball as the reason he could not return to the Brewers.
Now, according to Jon Heyman, that may not be the case.
The latest rumors surrounding Brewers skipper Craig Counsell involve him heading to New York to manage the Mets. What can we make of this?
Jon Heyman's reports the "latest word" is that Counsell is expected to be managing somewhere in 2024. That's a big change from Heyman's other recent reports that it was expected Counsell would step away from managing. Counsell's plans have completely flipped. Or have they?
How much stock can be put in these reports? Counsell's contract status as a lame duck despite being arguably the best manager in baseball is going to create buzz. His former boss, David Stearns, going to the Mets also gives the idea of Counsell following him some credence. But there's also a strong chance that this Mets buzz is simply manufactured with nothing actually behind it besides trying to connect two dots.
Heyman reports there could be a bidding war between the Mets and Brewers for Counsell's services. Managerial contracts are not like player contracts, but Counsell does deserve to be paid like the best manager in baseball and the Brewers are quite likely willing to pay it.
All the rumors about Counsell's contract status and waiting until after the year to talk about a new deal hasn't had anything to do with Counsell looking to manage elsewhere, but instead spend time with his family, an understandable direction he could take. But it Counsell's feelings about managing in 2024 has changed and he does want to stay in the dugout, then there's little reason to believe that Counsell's looking to move elsewhere.
The Brewers are Counsell's hometown team. He grew up here, he played here, we all know his story. It's a dream for him to manage the Brewers and even if he could get more money to manage the Mets, why would he do that when family obligations have been his primary concern through this whole process? His sons are at Minnesota and Michigan playing college baseball and almost walking away to watch them play to all of a sudden turn around and go to New York to manage doesn't track logically.
Stearns going to New York tracked because he's from there and grew up a Mets fan. Counsell following because he worked well with Stearns doesn't track.
Frankly, the important takeaway for Brewers fans is that it's now believed that Counsell will be managing in 2024. If that is indeed the direction Counsell is leaning now, then the Brewers are highly likely to be the team he's managing next year and beyond. The Mets can try all they want, but convincing Counsell to leave Milwaukee will be a lot more difficult than it was to convince Stearns. Stearns is the only connection Counsell has to that organization and that's probably not enough.
None of us will know for sure which direction Counsell wants to go until after the season ends. Counsell could choose to walk away or he could sign a new contract with the Crew. Until then more rumors like this will probably swirl.