Manager Craig Counsell explained to the media Tuesday why he rejected joining the New York Mets and returning to the Milwaukee Brewers to accept a record five-year, $40M contract with the Chicago Cubs on Monday.
“I think as I was going through this process, it became clear that I needed and wanted a new professional challenge,” Counsell said, according to Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “At the same time, look, I’m grateful to be part of this community. And that’s going to continue, hopefully, because it has nothing to do with baseball, that part of it. I’m looking forward to being part of a new community and hopefully impact our community well, too. But as I went through it, it just became clear that I needed a new challenge.”
It was widely thought as recently as Monday morning that Counsell would either re-sign with a Brewers team he had managed since 2015 or accept a lucrative deal from big-spending Mets owner Steve Cohen to relocate to Queens and once again work under club president of baseball operations David Stearns. Stearns previously held that role with Milwaukee.
Also on Tuesday, Stearns met with reporters at a different gathering and admitted he was surprised Counsell ended up replacing David Ross with the Cubs.
“…None of us had any idea of where this was headed,” Stearns said.
While it had been reported Counsell was open to calling New York home, the 53-year-old lives in Wisconsin during the offseason and seems happy he’s staying in the Midwest.
“In looking at my decision, you’re considering a number of things, and the challenging part of this industry is that there’s one job in 30 places in 30 different cities and me still preserving what I think is a great situation (family-wise),” Counsell said. “I was able to do that, yet also get a professional challenge. But the proximity made this attractive.”
Counsell holds the Brewers franchise record for most wins as a manager and took the team to the playoffs five times over the past six seasons. He acknowledged Tuesday that “change is scary,” but resetting the market regarding manager salaries should help eliminate at least some of the stress related to his move to Chicago.