Monday, February 26, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz

As soon as reports of Craig Counsell’s surprise destination circulated online, one National League executive, unprompted, texted a reporter two exploding head emojis along with three letters: WTF. When asked to elaborate, the executive explained, “It’s a lot to digest. I am not sure what’s more shocking — where he landed or how much he got.”Counsell became the highest-paid manager in baseball on Monday, when word emerged that he’d be the next Cubs skipper. This was particularly notable because the club already employed a manager in David Ross.

Now Ross is out of a job and Counsell has a new five-year, $40 million deal, the end result of an unexpected development that sent shockwaves throughout the industry.

Almost no one knew about Chicago’s secret courting of Counsell, who had been linked to multiple teams with managerial vacancies. The Athletic spoke to nearly a dozen people around the game, granting anonymity as needed so that employees of other organizations could speak freely, in order to survey the ripple effect that Counsell’s decision might have on managerial jobs and baseball as a whole.

“About time managers get paid what they’re worth,” one current big-league manager said. “(Having) no coaches union has hurt this part of our game for years. Hate it for Rossy, but love what Craig did for the industry.”

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