Some days you do some poaching, some days you get poached. So it goes.
Incredibly, the Chicago Cubs will be turning over ANOTHER hitting coach spot – I think that’s 14 in the last 10 years(!) – though this is one of the few times when it’s not their doing. Assistant hitting coach Chris Valaika is getting a promotion in Cleveland:
Have heard the same. Cleveland had narrowed down their list to a few external candidates in recent days. Valaika beat out former Padres hitting coach Jay Washington, among others. https://t.co/y5zHPBQExc
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) November 5, 2021
Valaika had worked his way up as a hitting instructor in the minors, and then became the team’s assistant hitting coach last year. He had developed a reputation for working especially well with some of the veteran players who were still trying to establish themselves, so I immediately wonder what kind of impact he had on guys like Frank Schwindel and Rafael Ortega and Patrick Wisdom. Obviously the players deserve most of the credit, but they also must have had a good structure set up around them. I suspect Valaika had at least something to do with it.
Good for him on the promotion, though. The Cubs, I suspect, would’ve had the first crack to promote him internally to their open hitting coach job – the one vacated when they mutually parted ways with Anthony Iapoce – but they instead opted to go with an outside hire, bringing in former Rays minor league hitting coordinator Greg Brown.
Jed Hoyer said in his end-of-season presser that Valaika would be returning, so this is a true poach. Again, good for Valaika on the promotion.
From here, the Cubs now have an open assistant hitting coach spot to fill. It’s possible they pull up from the minors, as they did last year with Valaika. Other options would include recent hitting coach/assistant hitting coach departures from other organizations, or finding another great minor league coordinator to snag for a promotion.