Guardians receive permission to interview Craig Counsell

Milwaukee Brewers v Cincinnati Reds
Milwaukee Brewers v Cincinnati Reds / Jeff Dean/GettyImages

The Cleveland Guardians are potentially one step closer to finding their next manager. Cleveland has been granted permission by the Milwaukee Brewers to interview Craig Counsell for the position previously held by Terry Francona.

The Guardians initally had to request permission from Milwaukee due to Counsell being under contract until the end of the month. Permission being granted seemed to be expected, considering the Brewers also allowed the New York Mets to interview Counsell.

While Cleveland has cleared the obstacle of receiving permission, there is still another in their way that could ultimately prevent Counsell from taking over for Francona. That obstacle? David Stearns.

Stearns just so happens to have a lengthy history with Counsell. Stearns' time as the President of Baseball Operations and General Manager coincides with Counsell's time as Milwaukee's manager. That connection is impossible to ignore, and with Stearns now being the New York Mets' President of Baseball Operations, there is a very likely possibility that Counsell follows him to Queens.

It is not just the connection between Stearns and Counsell that needs to be acknowledged here. The ability and willingness to spend money could ultimately give the Mets the advantage when it comes to Counsell. Mets' owner Steve Cohen spends money like it is going out of style, finishing with baseball's highest total payroll in 2023 by a comfortable margin ($343.6 million). Cleveland was on the other end of the spectrum, as their $91.8 million total payroll for last year ranked 26th in the majors, only ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Oakland Athletics.

Taking Milwaukee's 19th-ranked payroll into consideration, Counsell may want to make a move to an organization where spending money is a given rather than a possibility that may happen if things just so happen to fall a certain way that aligns with their spending habits. Even though Counsell is very familiar with operating in this type of environment, there is a very good chance he may want to see how the other half lives.

Counsell is one of two candidates who have previous experience as an MLB manager, the other being Cubs bench coach Andy Green. Green was San Diego's manager from 2016 to 2019, with the Padres hovering between 66 and 71 in those four seasons. Other candidates without previous MLB managerial experience include Carlos Mendoza, Craig Albernaz, Clay McCullough, Chris Valaika, Stephen Vogt, and John McDonald.