A Cubs coaching staff that remained in flux three weeks after the season ended underwent its first change Friday when the Cubs told assistant hitting coach Terrmel Sledge his contract would not be renewed for 2021, sources confirmed.
The rest of the 2020 coaching staff is to remain intact, including lead hitting coach Anthony Iapoce, who returns for a third season in 2021, insiders say.
However, that could change pending external interest in any of the remaining coaches. For example, highly regarded third-base coach Will Venable is a candidate for managerial jobs in Boston and Detroit.
Sledge was one of 10 hitting coaches or assistant hitting coaches hired by the Cubs since the current front office took over baseball operations before the 2012 season. Iapoce would match John Mallee (2015-17) for the longest tenure of any lead or assistant hitting coach in that span if he stays through next season.
A Cubs lineup core that team president Theo Epstein said "broke" over the second half of 2018 and into the postseason has remained largely intact with little to no improvement in production as five hitting coaches and assistants have cycled through the staff in that span.
Key members of that hitting core are expected to finally be moved this winter.
Sledge, 43, was the assistant the past two seasons, replacing Andy Haines, who was hired as the Brewers top big-league hitting coach after the 2018 season.
The Sledge move does not appear to be related to cost-cutting measures that have resulted in more than 100 layoffs across the Cubs organization this year.
The assistant hitting coach position, which was officially added to major-league staffs in 2013, will be filled by the team this winter, sources say, possibly by an internal candidate.
The Athletic was first to report the Sledge move.