Craig Counsell contract details: Cubs make ex-Brewers manager the highest-paid skipper in MLB history

When Craig Counsell’s contract with the Brewers expired at the conclusion of the 2023 MLB season, he stated that he wanted to reset the market for baseball managers. 

Boy, has he done that, and then some. 

On Monday, the Cubs announced that the team was hiring Counsell to become the team’s next manager; Chicago had to back up the Brink’s truck to do so.

According to reports, Chicago is making the 53-year-old the highest-paid manager in baseball by a wide margin, handing him a $40 million contract, the largest in major league history.

FAGAN: Craig Counsell burns bridges to join team willing to spend to win

Counsell is set to take over for Cubs manager David Ross, who spent the last four seasons in the role. It is unclear what is next for Ross, who was under contract with the team. The move was sudden, has there had not been any previous news of the organization parting ways with the former MLB catcher. 

The newest Cubs manager is regarded as one of the best in baseball. In his nine years with the Brewers, Counsell finished with an overall record of 707-625, making five playoff appearances and winning the NL Central three times. An NLCS appearance in 2018 marked the furthest that Milwaukee got in the postseason under Counsell. 

The Sporting News has more information on Counsel’s contract with the Cubs. 

Craig Counsell contract details

The Cubs are reportedly giving Counsell a five-year, $40 million contract to lead the team for the foreseeable future. It immediately makes him the highest-paid manager in the MLB, and it is not particulary close. 

Counsell is set to make $8 million a year with this new agreement. It is well above his previous pay of $3.5 million he made in 2023 with Milwaukee. The former infielder had previously stated that he was looking to double his annual salary and would not take a hometown discount to stay with the Brewers.

Bottom line — he wanted the bag, and the Cubs granted him his wish. 

MORE: Ranking MLB’s top 99 free agents, from Shohei Ohtani to Joey Gallo

Highest-paid managers in MLB

Counsell was successful in resetting the market for baseball managers. His monster deal to manage at Wrigley Field bucks the recent trend of managers getting underpaid. 

The $8 million that Counsell will make surpasses former Yankees skipper Joe Torre’s mark of $7.5 million that he made years ago. Despite the record deal that New York gave the legendary manager, the trend of paying MLB managers top dollar did not stick, until this offseason. 

MLB manager’s contracts are not made available to the public, so it takes a bit of digging to find out all the details. However, it was previously reported that now former Guardians manager Terry Francona was making the most in 2023, earning somewhere between $4.5 to $5 million. 

Counsell’s $3.5 million was right up near the top, along with the Mets’ now-fired Buck Showalter ($3.75 million), the Nationals’ Dave Martinez ($3.5 million) and the Dodgers’ Dave Roberts ($3.25 million). 

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, there are six managers set to earn less than $1 million in 2024, and 15 managers that will earn $1.75 million or less. 

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