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MLB manager hot stove: Craig Counsell, Dave Roberts, Clayton McCullough

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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers-Workouts Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Monday was one of the busiest days in MLB manager news in recent memory, with three teams hiring new managers, including one that didn’t even have a vacancy at the position.

Craig Counsell was the biggest splash, after playing out his contract with the Brewers, where he managed the last nine years and made five playoff appearances, one more than in the first 46 years of the franchise. Counsell signed a whopping $40-million contract over five years with the Cubs, recalibrating the scale for managerial pay, which topped out at somewhere between a reported $4 million and $4.5 million in the majors last year. Chicago fired David Ross to open the position for Counsell, even inexplicably leading Counsell’s press release with this fact.

Terry Francona reportedly was 2023’s highest-paid manager, but now he’s retired. The Guardians on Monday filled that vacancy by hiring former catcher Stephen Vogt, who has no managerial experience but was the Mariners bullpen coach this season.

Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough interviewed for the Guardians job in October, and has been a managerial candidate in recent years with the Giants, Mets, and Royals. But just because Cleveland found their manager, or that the Mets hired Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza to manage, doesn’t mean there aren’t other managerial opportunities in the majors.

Four MLB vacancies still exist at manager — the Brewers, Padres, Astros, and Angels. Folks at The Athletic even went so far as to rank the desirability of each job.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Tuesday morning that McCullough is among a group of candidates Milwaukee is considering to replace Counsell as manager.

Counsell was hired by the Brewers in May 2015 to replace Ron Roenicke as manager a month into the season. But now that he’s gone, Dave Roberts has the longest tenure with his current team of any National League manager.

Roberts was hired by the Dodgers in November 2015, and 2024 will be his ninth season on the job. Brian Snitker now has the second-longest tenure with an NL team, as he was hired to replace Fredi González in Atlanta in May 2016.

Scott Servais has managed the Mariners since the start of 2016, so he matches Roberts’ current tenure over in the American League. The only current MLB manager with more continuous service with their current team than Roberts is the Rays’ Kevin Cash, who has managed Tampa Bay since 2015.

This year’s Manager of the Year awards will be announced by the BBWAA next Tuesday, November 14. Counsell is one of the top-three finishers for the National League award, along with Snitker and first-year manager Skip Schumaker of the Marlins.

The last four National League Manager of the Year winners — Mike Shildt (2019), Don Mattingly (2020), Gabe Kapler (2021), and Buck Showalter (2022) — are currently not managing, though Showalter has been linked to the Angels’ opening this offseason. But if Counsell wins, that would make five straight NL Managers of the Year who are no longer with those teams in relatively short order.