The Guardians have secured permission to interview Brewers manager Craig Counsell, per Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com. Cleveland had previously been reported as requesting permission from Milwaukee to interview Counsell earlier this week. While it was unclear if the Brewers would grant that permission, it’s hardly a surprise that they did so after recently offering the Mets the same courtesy. Counsell, 53, is among the most well-respected managers in the game after piloting the Brewers to a 707-625 record during his nine-year tenure that’s included five postseason appearances in the past six seasons.
Just as Counsell has other suitors beyond Cleveland in Milwaukee and Queens, the Guardians also have options outside of Counsell as they look to replace Terry Francona in the dugout. Cubs bench coach Andy Green recently interviewed for the position, and Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough, Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza, and Giants bullpen/catching coach Craig Albernaz have all also met with the Guardians regarding their managerial vacancy. Of that group, only Green has past experience as a big league manager aside from Counsell. While Counsell reportedly enters free agency hoping to move the ball forward for future managers around the game in terms of salary, that seems unlikely to preclude the Guardians from making a run at Counsell’s services, given Francona was the highest paid manager in the game this season, with Jon Heyman of the New York Post reporting that Francona made $4.5MM in 2023.
More from around the AL Central…
- Despite not being part of the club’s starting lineup during their postseason run, veteran catcher Christian Vazquez figures to remain a significant part of the Twins in 2024, per Bobby Nightengale of the Star Tribune. Per Nightengale, the team plans to offer roughly equal playing time to Vazquez and fellow catcher Ryan Jeffers behind the plate next year. Vazquez just wrapped up the first season of his three-year, $30MM deal with the club and suffered the worst offensive season of his career with a .223/.280/.318 slash line across 355 plate appearances. By contrast, Jeffers had a breakout season, slashing .276/.369/.490 in 335 trips to the plate. While Jeffers is clearly the stronger offensive option, Vazquez is regarded as an elite defensive catcher and Jeffers could feasibly see additional playing time at DH next year as a way to keep his bat in the lineup on days Vazquez is behind the plate.
- The Tigers had another difficult season in 2023, posting a 78-84 record and finishing 9 games out of a postseason spot. That being said, one significant bright spot for the club this year was catcher Jake Rogers, who Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press indicates has already secured his role as the club’s top option behind the plate for 2024. Rogers improved on defense in 2023 to post framing numbers in line with other quality regulars at the position like Adley Rutschman and Alejandro Kirk while also slashing a respectable .221/.286/.444 with 21 home runs in just 365 trips to the plate. Among catchers with at least 300 plate appearances in the majors this year, Rogers’s 97 wRC+ ties him with Mets rookie Francisco Alvarez for the 14th-best figure in the majors.