The Chicago Cubs will have another opening to fill on their coaching staff this winter.
The Cleveland Guardians plan to hire Cubs assistant hitting coach Chris Valaika for their head hitting coach job, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
Valaika, who ended his playing career with a 44-game stint in Chicago in 2014, joined the Cubs’ staff in 2017. Before the Cubs named him assistant coach last November, Valaika served as hitting coach for Triple-A Iowa in 2018 and minor-league hitting coordinator in 2019-20.
Valaika will replace Ty Van Burkleo, who spent the past nine seasons in the role for Cleveland before his firing in October. The 36-year-old Valaika was an infielder for the Reds, Marlins, and Cubs from 2010-14.
Valaika is the 12th hitting coach to leave the Cubs since October 2011, when current Chicago president Jed Hoyer joined the organization as general manager. Among the 12, Valaika is the ninth coach to leave on his own accord.
The Cubs haven’t made it official, but they are expected to hire Rays minor-league hitting coordinator Greg Brown as hitting coach. Brown will replace Anthony Iapoce, who was fired in October.
Hoyer will now need to fill the assistant hitting coach position along with the strategy coach job, a role previously held by Mike Borzello. Hoyer has already appointed two executives this offseason, with GM Carter Hawkins and assistant GM Ehsan Bokhari. Hawkins comes from the Cleveland organization, while Bokhari is from the Houston Astros.
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