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Chicago Cubs shockingly hire Craig Counsell to be new manager despite having one under contract

Despite the team’s record getting better each season during his first four seasons as manager, the Chicago Cubs shockingly replaced skipper David Ross before officially firing him on Monday.

The Cubs came up just one game short of reaching the Wild Card in 2023, however, they finished strong and a case could be made that the team was headed in the right direction after David Ross’ fourth year on the bench. The group had won 83 games — the most during his tenure — and their record had improved every season since his hiring in 2020.

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However, it seems the development was too slow for Chicago brass and they made a completely unexpected move on Monday afternoon. The Athletic’s MLB insider Ken Rosenthal broke the news that the Cubs had surprisingly hired Craig Counsell, the top available manager on the market, and the recent skipper for division rivals the Milwaukee Brewers.

Not only did they hire Counsell, who only became available after the Brewers let his contract expire last month, but they reportedly gave him a massive five-year deal worth $40 million.

Chicago Cubs replace David Ross before making his departure official

chicago cubs
Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

It is a rather stunning development with MLB free agency set to kick at 5 p.m. (ET) on Monday and there having been no indication that Ross would not be on the bench for the team in 2024.

During his eight seasons with the Brewers, Counsell took the small market club to playoffs five times, won the Central Division title on three occasions, and also took the Brewers to the National League Championship Series in 2018. He had a 707-625 record during his tenure with the franchise.

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It is still unclear if Ross had been officially informed that his time with the team was done before the Counsell news broke. Over four seasons, the Cubs never reached the postseason and he finished with a 262-284 record.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts and president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer both gave Ross a public vote of confidence on the final day of the regular season.

“Rossy had a great season and the players play hard for him,” Ricketts said, via the Tribune. “He’s our guy, so I like him a lot. … He’s a great manager. He creates a great clubhouse culture. The players love playing for him.”

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