New coach Moskos takes winding path back to Cubs


Daniel Moskos joked he hasn’t received this many social media notifications in all his life.

“It’s been absurd,” he said in a phone conversation this week. “It’s been good, obviously all for good reasons. I’m just not a social media person normally.”

The Cubs named Moskos assistant pitching coach on Monday, bringing in that flurry of congratulatory messages on Twitter and Instagram, including one from Rick Sutcliffe.

“That was really, really cool,” he said.

Moskos, who pitched professionally for 12 years, including briefly in the big leagues with Pittsburgh in 2011, took a winding path to the Cubs. In fact, he had two close calls in recent years where he almost joined them. 

The No. 4 overall pick in 2007 by the Pirates signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs in December 2016. But he never pitched for the organization after they failed him on his physical.

“There was no reason I should have failed my physical and I'll stand by that till the day I die,” said Moskos, who also spent time in the White Sox, Dodgers and Padres organizations. 

Moskos never was sidelined by injury after that and in fact answered the bell for the next 18 months as called upon in the Mexican League and independent Atlantic League without issue until he was done playing. 

Although Moskos had success over those 18 months, the failed physical proved to be a hard reputation to shake with MLB teams.

Seeking an opportunity to return to affiliate ball, he went to train at Driveline Baseball in Seattle in November 2018. He later threw a pro day, and while he didn’t land a deal, another opportunity presented itself: joining the Driveline training staff. 

“I fell in love with their philosophy on development and kind of that holistic approach to pitching or to development,” he said. “It’s about knowing the biomechanics side of things, the pitch package side of things, the strength side of things, and the throwing programming.

“It was just a really easy, smooth way to transition out of my playing career and into the life after baseball. [My wife and I] took advantage of it, and looking back on it, it was probably a really good decision.”

Indeed. After the 2019 season, Moskos began interviewing for positions with MLB teams. The Yankees, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Phillies and Cubs were among those who reached out, he said.

Moskos was down to the Cubs and Yankees and chose the Yankees, who months earlier hired his mentor, Sam Briend, from Driveline as director of pitching development. Moskos spent the past two seasons as a minor-league pitching coach for the Yankees, including 2021 in Double-A.

Now he can play a big role within the Cubs’ pitching infrastructure. 

The Cubs wanted to hire someone with an area of expertise to “own a specific area,” according to Moskos. He’ll focus on pitch design, i.e. the development of stuff — something he had a heavy focus on at Driveline.

The Cubs have had some turnover on the pitching side this winter. Longtime associate pitching, catching and strategy coach Mike Borzello is no longer with the organization. Neither is Brad Mills, the former assistant director, advance scouting/run production.

Moskos can take some responsibilities off Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy’s plate, allowing Hottovy to put a larger focus on other areas.

“If he's going to dominate mechanics, throwing programming and game-planning,” Moskos said, “and then I get to dominate the work in the bullpen on a pitch design front, all of a sudden, the sum of our parts is far greater than the individual.”

For as close as Moskos came to joining the Cubs in the past, things have come full circle. He said he’s “insanely excited” to join the Cubs — at last.

“It's amazing how baseball works sometimes,” he said. “It just gives credence to the ‘How can you not be romantic about baseball?’ when things like this happen.”

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