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The Milwaukee Brewers are closing in on their third National League Central crown since 2018, but that isn't preventing folks from speculating about the future of manager Craig Counsell -- especially in light of former executive David Stearns landing the top baseball executive gig with the New York Mets.

Counsell, 53, is slated to hit free agency this winter. While there had been speculation that he would take at least the next year off, the New York Post's Jon Heyman reported on Thursday night that "the latest word is that he's expected to be in the dugout somewhere in 2024." Heyman, in turn, speculates that Counsell could inspire a bidding war between the Brewers and Mets. (It stands to reason that other teams who change skippers this winter -- like, potentially, the San Diego Padres -- may also want to get involved in the process, driving up the cost even more.) 

Heyman offers that such a bidding war could even see Counsell threaten Bruce Bochy for the title of being the best-compensated skipper in the game. Bochy, the Texas Rangers manager, reportedly makes around $6 million a year.

As noted in the introduction, the Mets will install Stearns as their new top baseball executive at the end of the season. Stearns, who stepped down from his post as Milwaukee's general manager around this time last year, has not yet made it clear whether or not he will retain skipper Buck Showalter. For as long as Showalter's fate is in doubt, speculation about Counsell reuniting with Stearns will continue. (Showalter, it ought to be noted, is under contract for another season; teams often avoid lame-duck situations, however, potentially making a change more likely than it may appear.)

Counsell, a longtime utility infielder, entered Thursday with a career regular-season record of 701-621 -- good for a 53% winning percentage. Counsell has also led the Brewers to a 7-10 postseason record.