Going Stealth?

Did they fire Ross… or did he want out? 

David Ross was under contract through next season with a club option for 2025. Therefore he was not fired. With all of the managerial openings that started hitting the baseball world in late August… my guess is that he was told, privately, by Jed Hoyer at the beginning of September that the team was looking for other options in the manager’s position.

Here’s why I believe this is how it went down. It has been known since last year that Craig Counsell was going to be on the managerial market this winter. Also, he is one of the top 5, if not top 3, managers in today’s game.

It has also been known for most of that time that the GM meetings were going to happen following the World Series. Jed Hoyer knew he was going to be ready to really listen to fans and spend this winter since mid-June. As a result, that was when the stealth search started for a new manager.

Being a sports fan who has also been a free agent worker in my industry and also a business owner for the last seventeen years of my life, I understand what Hoyer just did making history paying Craig Counsell to come 90 miles south from Milwaukee and be paid more than any manager in the history of Major League Baseball.

Counsell was a free agent the second the World Series ended last week. Hoyer got serious with the money conversation once the door opened allowing that conversation to really start because he knows that he has been given clearance to SPEND on the player payroll this winter.

Cody Bellinger vs. Harrison Bader & Shohei Ohtani

On that note, Hoyer knew that Ohtani would be available again following the 2023 season. He was merely taking things slowly before Bellinger and other leaders in the clubhouse pushed teammates to play well.

Was the Marcus Stroman injury a fake injury? Absolutely not. Did Hoyer make it sound like a fake injury? You bet he did, because Stroman’s value decreased the moment after he started his first game following the All-star Game.

When Ohtani was removed from the Angels game back in August, Hoyer already knew he had clearance to SPEND this off season. As a result, he was looking for a reason to get Stroman to leave so that he would be able to open $45+ million from the player payroll before buying out Bellinger’s contract making him a free agent.

Here’s the thing, folks: With a Gold Glove defense, up the middle, controlled by Dansby Swanson who was brought over from Atlanta last winter, Hoyer wanted to keep Cody Bellinger. However, at the same time, he also had to decide whether or not keeping Bellinger or going after Hader would leave enough money available to steal Ohtani off the market on a five-to-six year (or more) deal this winter.

Bellinger, Ohtani, and Bader are all under the age of 30. Therefore, they are all in their prime. Ohtani will sign somewhere this offseason and never be a free agent again. It will be a once in a lifetime type of contract because of his injury which likely has him doing nothing except hitting next season.

The Cubs were rumored to be a sleeper in the race to get Shohei before relieving David Ross from his manager duties yesterday. Once it was announced that Bellinger won the Comeback Player Of The Year award last week there was no doubt in my mind that the Cubs would go in a different direction this winter to have a backup in Center Field (behind Pete Crow-Armstrong) and at First Base.

With that…. the second day of the GM meetings is tomorrow and the offseason has officially started!

If you cannot play with them, root for them.

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