Free agency is off to a slow start in Major League Baseball, but there has been some movement among team managers. I know this isn’t the spicy content that will come when some of this year’s top free-agent players start signing, but I’m a blogger and I’m not happy unless I’m sitting behind a keyboard yapping about something. So let’s talk about some of these changes. We’ll start with probably the most entertaining one. Craig Counsell decided he needed a change in scenery so he chose a spot just a tad bit further south on Lake Michigan. This one came as a bit of a surprise to everyone. The Brewers had granted permission to two teams to talk to Counsell before his contract had expired. The New York Mets and the Cleveland Guardians. So news of Counsell signing with a new team on the first day of free agency wasn’t really a surprise, it was mainly that it ended up being with a team that wasn’t on the radar yet. The Chicago Cubs swung in and locked Counsell down with a five-year deal worth around $40 million. Making it even more interesting is the fact that Counsell is a finalist for NL Manager of the Year.
This move left David Ross without a job and likely with little to no warning as fast as this would’ve had to come together. I imagine that Cubs ownership had something like this to say about Ross, “That’s not a good manager that just won 83 games for our team. Or not our caliber of manager I believe. We have to turn it around. It’s on the guys in this room.”
Another team that will be coming into the 2024 season with a new manager is the Cleveland Indians. They had permission to talk with Counsell prior to free agency, but with him signing with the Cubs they were left looking elsewhere. They settled on former player Stephen Vogt. Vogt has ten years of experience in Major League Baseball as catcher, first baseman, and outfielder. This will be his first job as a manager. His final MLB season was 2022 when he played 70 games with the Oakland Athletics. He will replace Terry Francona.
The Los Angeles Angels have hired Ron Washington. Washington managed the Texas Rangers from 2007 until 2014 and led them to back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011. The Angels signed him to a two-year contract through the 2025 season. Washington has more recently been on the Brian Snitker‘s staff with the Atlanta Braves. He will replace Phil Nevin.
The Mets, who also lost out on the Craig Counsell sweepstakes, have opted to go with Yankees’ coach Carlos Mendoza as their new manager. He will be replacing the outgoing Buck Showalter. Finally, in a move that happened a couple of weeks ago Bob Melvin is taking over as the San Francisco Giants manager after his time managing their rival San Diego Padres came to a tumultuous end.