The Cleveland Guardians are meeting with Milwaukee Brewers skipper Craig Counsell on Monday to discuss their own managerial vacancy, according to Zack Meisel and Will Sammon of The Athletic. The Guardians are in the market for a new manager following Terry Francona's retirement at season's end.
Counsell, 53, is expected to become a free agent once his contract with the Brewers expires at the conclusion of October. The Brewers seem resigned to that outcome as well, having already granted him permission to speak with the Guardians and the New York Mets, the team he's most often linked with based on their willingness to spend freely and his longstanding relationship with former Brewers executive David Stearns. (The Mets hired Stearns to be their top baseball operations decision maker after his contract expired in October.)
Counsell has served as the Brewers manager since early on in the 2015 season. He's amassed a 707-625 record (that's a 53.1% winning percentage) over that span. He's also led the Brewers to postseason appearances in five of nine attempts, including a two-game sweep in the NL Wild Card Series this fall. Through it all, Counsell has built a reputation as one of the game's savviest skippers, and someone who can get the most from his rosters.
The Guardians have mostly been linked to first-time managerial candidates in their search to replace Francona. Seattle Mariners bullpen coach Stephen Vogt and Houston Astros hitting coach Troy Snitker are two such names that have populated the rumor mill. Counsell represents a notable departure in both experience and expected price tag, with some insiders predicting that he could become the highest paid manager in Major League Baseball. (That distinction is believed to be held by Texas Rangers skipper Bruce Bochy.)
The Guardians, at 76-86, are coming off their worst season since 2012.