Even Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns was surprised when Craig Counsell opted to take over as manager of the Chicago Cubs rather than reuniting with him in Queens.
“I didn’t see that coming,” Stearns said on Tuesday (h/t SNY). “Craig can play things really close to the vest, and in this case, clearly he kept things very close to the vest because none of us had any idea of where this was headed.”
Counsell spent nine seasons with the Brewers, eight of which came with Stearns as either general manager or president of baseball operations in Milwaukee. He spent the 2023 season as an advisor with the club, which was the final year of his contract before officially getting hired by New York just one day after the regular season ended.
Upon Stearns’ arrival, Counsell was deemed the immediate favorite to land the Mets’ managerial job after Stearns fired Buck Showalter. But the 53-year-old skipper opted to stay closer to home in Chicago while getting a handsome payday of $8 million per year over a five-year contract.
This after he and Stearns had a pair of interviews, including Counsell traveling to New York on Thursday to meet with team brass.
Upon learning that he was leaning toward Chicago, New York focused on securing Carlos Mendoza as their new manager.
“We were running a robust process throughout,” Stearns said. “We were having conversations with many candidates. As last week went along and it became clear that Craig was thinking elsewhere, that formed our process and how we moved moving forward.”