CHICAGO -- Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio outlined a methodical search for the team's next general manager after Doug Melvin announced Tuesday his intention to begin transitioning to an advisory role.
"We're trying to do this in a way that doesn't put any pressure on us," Attanasio said. "Ideally, we'd like to have someone in place by the Winter Meetings [in Nashville during the second week of December], but teams may not give us permission to talk to people until October. …
"The process needs to be exhaustive, so as a result, there is no timetable for the process."
Melvin's decision did not come as a surprise. He and Attanasio had discussed it for more than a year, Melvin said, giving the Brewers time to prepare for an orderly transition. Attanasio has hired the executive search firm Korn Ferry to assist the process.
Attanasio already has a list that includes internal and external candidates, including a handful of "outside the box" candidates from outside baseball.
"Unlikely, but possible," he said.
The new GM will inherit manager Craig Counsell, who took over in May on a three-year contract after gaining three years of experience in the Brewers' front office. Counsell confirmed he loves managing and is not interested in leaving the dugout.
"I'm not a candidate," Counsell said.
Said Attanasio: "Looking forward, we now have a manager who is in his early 40s. We'll transition at the general manager level to likely a younger person, and I think that's very healthy for the team."
Melvin's replacement will be the Brewers' "primary decision-maker," Attanasio said, and will inherit an organization at the beginning of a transition period. Melvin made three trades in advance of the non-waiver Trade Deadline to infuse an improving farm system with more talent, mostly acquiring prospects at the Double-A and Triple-A levels. That suggested the Brewers were leaning toward a shorter-term rebuild, and it will be up to the new GM to decide whether to chart a different course.
Attanasio, whose 11 seasons as owner have mostly seen the team in "go for it" mode, expressed open-mindedness on the issue.
"We'll hear what the candidates have to say," he said. "I think you always box yourself in when you say, 'It's got to be two to three years.' We've seen a couple of successful [rebuilds] that have taken five full years -- the Astros and the Cubs. We want success. We don't want to do something halfway and get back to .500.
"But obviously, we're all committed to winning, and winning as soon as possible. I think we have enough talent both on the field currently -- young talent -- and in the Minor Leagues, that on the face of it, it doesn't appear it has to be five years. We'd like to see it more in the two to three years."
The GM search began at noon CT on Tuesday, when Attanasio returned to the Owners' Meetings at the Four Seasons Hotel after meeting upstairs with Melvin and a small group of reporters. A gathering of Major League Baseball's labor policy committee offered Attanasio's first opportunity to request permission from fellow owners to interview candidates from other organizations.
Among the in-house possibilities for the job is Brewers amateur scouting director Ray Montgomery, who left that same job with the Arizona Diamondbacks to come to Milwaukee in December. Before making that move, Montgomery interviewed for San Diego's GM vacancy. The Padres eventually hired A.J. Preller.
"I very much like what [Montgomery] has done so far," Attanasio said. "Absolutely, we are casting a wide net here, including internal candidates. We don't want to create any issues by saying it could be this person or that person. We will be looking at internal candidates, we will look across baseball, and I even have a couple of candidates from outside of baseball. …
"I'm bringing a process to the transition that you might see in corporate America more than you see in baseball. In baseball, a number of times there is abrupt change. I don't tend to think abrupt change is good for an organization."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.