Mornings with Dave and Kim

Weekdays, 5 - 10am

Studio Line: (312) 922-9470

Cubs fire David Ross, hire Craig Counsell as new manager

The Chicago Cubs fired manager David Ross and hired Craig Counsell on Monday. The longtime Milwaukee Brewers manager was lured to Chicago with a record-setting five-year, $40 million contract, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN.

The moves, which the Cubs announced Monday afternoon, stunned the baseball world, which had seen Counsell’s return to Milwaukee or hiring by the New York Mets as the likeliest outcomes. The Cubs had publicly praised Ross, with owner Tom Ricketts saying Oct. 2: “He’s our guy.”

When Counsell’s contract with the Brewers expired Oct. 31, the Cubs moved quickly to indicate their interest and offered a deal that shattered the salary scale for current managers. The previous high average annual value for a manager was Terry Francona with the Cleveland Guardians at $4.5 million.

Counsell, a longtime leader with the Major League Baseball Players Association during his 16-year career, sought to lift managerial salaries during his free agency, and the Cubs obliged, more than doubling his previous salary of $3.5 million and lifting him into an echelon previously reached only by Joe Torre with the New York Yankees.

The move was reminiscent of 2014, when Chicago fired manager Rick Renteria in the middle of his contract and hired Joe Maddon, who two years later led the team to a World Series title after 108 championship-free seasons.

Chicago fired Maddon following the 2019 season and turned to Ross, who had retired as a player after helping lead the Cubs to the World Series in 2016. A first-time manager, Ross led the Cubs to a National League Central title in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season. Following a pair of down years that coincided with the Cubs trading core members of their championship run, they rebounded in 2023, going 83-79 but losing a playoff berth with a late-season swoon.

Counsell’s hiring brings a sense of urgency to a team with postseason aspirations. In his nine years as Brewers manager, Counsell won three NL Central titles and managed them to the postseason in five of the past six years, including a division-winning 92-70 mark this season.

In a statement, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said: “Today we made the difficult decision to dismiss David Ross as our major league manager. 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 and then as a manager, David continually showcased his ability to lead. David’s legacy will be felt in Chicago for generations and his impact to our organization will stack up with the legends that came before him.”

Counsell will be formally introduced at Wrigley next week, Hoyer said.