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Craig Counsell hired as new Cubs manager

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CHICAGO – In a stunning development, the Cubs have hired Craig Counsell as their new manager.

The Cubs announced Monday that Counsell will replace David Ross at the helm of the North Siders, who failed to make the playoffs after a late-season failure last season. The fact that Chicago took Counsell, 53, away from the rival Brewers and made him the highest-paid manager in history sent shockwaves through the baseball world.

“Today we made the difficult decision to terminate David Ross,” president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said in a statement. “On behalf of the Cubs organization, we express our deep gratitude for David’s contributions to our club, both on and off the field. First as a player, then as a manager, David has continually demonstrated his ability to lead.”

Sources told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that Counsell’s pact with the Cubs is a five-year deal worth a record $40 million. The Brewers made an offer a few weeks ago that would have made Counsell the highest-paid manager in MLB — around $5 million per year, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.

According to the Cubs, Counsell will be welcomed at a press conference at Wrigley Field early next week. On Monday, Hoyer was on his way to Scottsdale, Ariz., where the general managers’ annual meetings are being held this week.

Counsell was also known to have met with the Mets and Guardians regarding their vacant management positions. In nine seasons with the Brewers, Counsell guided the club to three division titles, five playoff appearances and a 707-625 record (.531 winning percentage) in the regular season.

Ross has managed the Cubs over the past four seasons, going 262-284 (.480 winning percentage) while leading Chicago to an NL Central title during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. The North Siders appeared to be on their way to a playoff berth in ’23, but lost 15 of their last 22 games to fall out of the October picture.

Ross, 46, was under contract through the 2024 campaign (plus a team option for 2025) and was praised at season’s end for his work in guiding the Cubs through a turbulent summer. Both Hoyer and team president Tom Ricketts were pleased with how Ross kept the team focused all season.

The change in leadership with Ross — a beloved member of the 2016 World Series championship team — is reminiscent of when the Cubs hired Joe Maddon away from the Rays before the 2015 season. That played a role in Chicago turned the page on a rebuild and began a streak of four consecutive playoff appearances, including three straight trips to the National League Championship Series.

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