Angels top free agent target not named Shohei Ohtani might not even be a player

Pursuing Craig Counsell to manage should be at the top of the Los Angeles Angels' list of priorities for the offseason.

Washington Nationals v Milwaukee Brewers
Washington Nationals v Milwaukee Brewers / Kayla Wolf/GettyImages

Phil Nevin running the show as the manager of the Los Angeles Angels should be pinned on one man and one man only, Arte Moreno. The Angels owner putting the team on the market and then backing out of a potential sale not only cost the Angels their dreams of a post-Moreno team but also cost the organization any chance to replace an unqualified manager in Phil Nevin.

Nevin took over for the Angels 12 games into their 14-game losing streak in the 2022 season. He had never managed before and wound up going 46-60 with the Angels down the stretch. I didn't think Nevin was so awful relative to the lack of talent the team had last season, but the 2023 season has been an entirely different story.

The Angels came into this season with more talent and depth than they have had in years, yet they enter play against the Twins with a record of 69-84 on the season. They'll miss the playoffs for a ninth straight time and will finish with a losing record for the eighth straight season.

Nevin isn't the only man to blame for the Angels' struggles, but he's certainly not blame-free. Several questionable bullpen and lineup decisions while also having a team that feels unprepared to play each and every night falls on him. He's on the hot seat, and rightfully so.

LA Angels should do whatever it takes to replace Phil Nevin with Craig Counsell

This is nothing more than a dream, but landing an elite manager like Craig Counsell should be at the top of Perry Minasian's wishlist (or whoever the GM is). Counsell has managed the Brewers to winning seasons in six of the last seven years, making the playoffs four times (with a fifth on the way) and winning two division titles (with a third on the way). He's established himself as one of the best managers in baseball, and would make the Angels a whole lot better if they were to get him.

Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that Counsell is set to be a free agent this offseason. The Brewers, of course, would want to keep him around, and the Mets with David Stearns, his former employer, could be interested, but the Angels giving him a blank check could convince him to come to Southern California instead.

Letting go of Phil Nevin should be a foregone conclusion by now, and replacing him with Counsell, a guy who clearly gets the most out of his players, should be at the top of the list of Angels priorities.

Shohei Ohtani is obviously at the very top, but Counsell shouldn't be too far down. If he's seriously considering leaving Milwaukee, he's absolutely one of the better free agents on the market.