Cubs Reportedly Hiring Receiving Guru Craig Driver as New Catching and First Base Coach

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Cubs Reportedly Hiring Receiving Guru Craig Driver as New Catching and First Base Coach

Chicago Cubs

Having recently brought on Mike Napoli to be his quality assurance coach, Cubs manager David Ross ostensibly had just one hire left to make on his inaugural coaching staff: third base coach.

And the Cubs have reportedly hired a new coach! So it’s all done, right?

Well, today’s news kinda throws a couple questions back into the mix:

Before we get to Driver, the immediate questions that come to mind: (1) if Driver coaches first base, does that mean Will Venable, who is being retained, is headed over to the open spot at third base, thus rounding out the staff? and (2) what happens to Mike Borzello now if Driver is the new catching coach?

I don’t have a set answer just yet on the first question, though that does seem like the most likely move. As for the second question, keep in mind that Borzello is also a key strategy coach for the Cubs as part of the pitching infrastructure, and Rogers suggests that will continue:

So, then, if Borzello stays, consider the incredible amount of CATCHING coaching the Cubs will have around next year. You’ve got Borzello and now Driver. You’ve got the manager in David Ross. You’ve got Napoli around. You’ve got the bullpen catcher in Chad Noble. And you’ve got the catching coordinator in Mark Johnson. Catching coaches everywhere! Think this was an area of focus for the Cubs?

As for Driver, he joined the Phillies in 2018 as the bullpen catcher/receiving coach, a year after being the catching coach at Yale. What a rocket rise, and certainly a deeply interesting hire for the Cubs, who obviously would love to continue improving their catchers’ receiving skills. It’s also probably just about seeing a rising coaching star and wanting to get him into the organization however they can. Once again, the turnover on the Phillies staff helps the Cubs (they also picked off Chris Young).

So, your next immediate question: does this mean Willson Contreras is staying for sure, and is going to be transformed into a superstar receiver, making his total value right up there with JT Realmuto?

… well, maybe! Hopefully!

I think we also probably need to be realistic and say the Cubs will still consider moving Contreras in the right deal, and no coaching hire would ever single-handedly change the Cubs’ roster plans. But if the right deal isn’t there, the Cubs sure as heck now have the best possible structure in place to max out Contreras’s natural talent.

And, even if Contreras *is* traded, you’re always going to want to be able to max out the talent of your catchers. So, in that way, what’s the difference? This is just a flat-out good hire, regardless of anything else that happens.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.