On Wednesday, the Cubs finalized their coaching staff for the 2021 season.
While we’re not sure what the roster will look like come Opening Day 2021, we now know who will call the shots on the Chicago Cubs coaching staff next season.
David Ross returns for his second season as manager after being named a finalist for NL Manager of the Year in his first go-round at the helm. Craig Driver and Andy Green will also return for their second season on the Cubs’ staff, as first base and bench coach, respectively. Familiar faces such as Tommy Hottovy, Anthony Iapoce and Mike Borzello return in their previous roles of pitching, hitting, and assistant pitching coach.
Borzello is the longest tenured member of the coaching staff, going into his tenth season in 2021. Chad Noble returns for his eighth season as the bullpen catcher, the second longest tenured member of the staff.
There is a new face among the coaching staff, and it’s third base coach Willie Harris. Harris is an MLB veteran that spent parts of 12 seasons in the league playing with four teams, most notably the Cubs’ crosstown rival the Chicago White Sox. Harris spent 2018 as the manager for the San Francisco Giants’ Double-A squad, the Richmond Flying Squirrels, before becoming the Cincinnati Reds baserunning and outfield coordinator for two seasons.
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Harris replaces Will Venable, who left his post at third base to become the bench coach for the Boston Red Sox. Chris Valaika joins the coaching staff as assistant hitting coach. This is his first season on the Major League staff, but his fifth season in the organization overall. He spent the previous two seasons as the Cubs’ minor league hitting coordinator. Valaika takes over for Terrmel Sledge, who was not offered a contract by the Cubs for 2021.
All told, there are two new coaches and 10 familiar faces on the staff. A big thing about coaching staffs in any sport is consistency, and that’s what Chicago is trying to establish. Joe Maddon’s staff had constant turnover, going through three pitching and hitting coaches in five years. Keeping Jed Hoyer long-term as the organization’s next President of Baseball Operations will help with that consistency as well.
One notable name that’s not listed on the staff directory is Franklin Font. He spent the past 29 years in the organization, most recently as a staff assistant. According to beat reporter Mark Gonzalez, Font was offered another spot in the organization but decided to pursue other options.
In today’s game, managing and coaching is as much about managing personalities as it is handling in-game decisions. Thankfully, Ross is good at that, especially with this group that he played with for two years. The former catcher was a mentor for these players, and now he’s their manager. The team’s future is in good hands, and the goal now is developing more consistency moving forward, both on the field and with the coaching staff.