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Brewers sign Craig Counsell to extension through 2023

Counsell is rewarded after taking the Brewers to the playoffs in two straight seasons.

2019 NL Wild Card - Milwaukee Brewers v. Washington Nationals Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Brewers have signed manager Craig Counsell to a three-year contract extension, per a club announcement Wednesday. Counsell’s current contract was set to expire at the end of the 2020 season, so this deal prevents him from being a lame-duck manager and will keep him on Milwaukee’s payroll through 2023:

Counsell is the longest-tenured manager in the National League and the fifth-longest-tenured manager in baseball overall, having led the Brewers to a 405-381 record since taking over early in the 2015 season. The highlight of his career so far has been taking the Brewers to the NLCS in 2018, where they lost a Game 7 to the Dodgers and fell one game short of going to the World Series. He also delivered an outstanding performance in 2019 as the Brewers went 20-7 in September and forced themselves into an NL Wild Card spot before falling to the eventual world champion Nationals in the one-game playoff.

There’s a strong argument to be made that Counsell is the best tactical manager in baseball — he’s been able to expertly handle a pitching staff that has largely been devoid of reliable starters in recent seasons and has also made the right lineup decisions while dealing with a roster full of starting-caliber position players. If he continues to utilize those same tactics and retains the trust of his players, the Brewers should remain a threat even as the front office backs off the “all-in” attitude it took over the last two years.

Counsell’s ability to influence a game has been widely recognized, as he finished second in NL Manager of the Year voting in each of the past two seasons and also received votes in 2017. It’s very possible that he would have won those awards if he had more talent to work with, but regardless, it’s pretty impressive that Counsell has gotten so much success out of a Brewers team that has had little-to-no dependable starting pitching for the entirety of the club’s current competitive window.