Valaika leaving Cubs for Cleveland's top hitting coach job


The Cubs have an additional opening to fill on their coaching staff.

Cleveland hired Cubs assistant hitting coach Chris Valaika as its top hitting coach, the soon-to-be Guardians announced Friday.

Valaika joined the Cubs organization as a coach in 2017 and just finished his first season on the big-league staff. Before the Cubs named him assistant hitting coach last November, he served as Triple-A Iowa's hitting coach (2018) and Cubs minor-league hitting coordinator (2019-20).

After the Cubs fired hitting coach Anthony Iapoce last month, team president Jed Hoyer said he expected Valaika would be back in 2022 but seemed to indicate he would not be promoted to Iapoce's previous position.

“We're going to do a search," Hoyer said at his end-of-season press conference. “I think whenever you do a search process, you learn a lot. I don't want to comment on Val’s status for that, but certainly he's going to be a big part of our hitting infrastructure."

Since then, Valaika was granted permission to interview with Cleveland, something Hoyer alluded to at the press conference introducing Carter Hawkins as general manager last month, when he said a coach had been granted permission to interview with another team.

The Cubs are set to hire Rays minor-league hitting coordinator Greg Brown as hitting coach. Once that move is made official, they'll have two vacancies to fill on David Ross' staff, with Valaika's departure.

Associate pitching, catching and strategy coach Mike Borzello also will not return next season.

Valaika is the 12th hitting coach to leave the Cubs since Theo Epstein and Hoyer took over the front office a decade ago — nine of which were fired or pushed to resign.

Valaika follows Eric Hinske (Angels) and Andy Haines (Brewers) as assistants to leave the Cubs in recent years for the top hitting coach job elsewhere.

Contributing: Gordon Wittenmyer

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