The Orioles will be searching for not only a new pitching coach this offseason, but also a new bullpen coach as Dom Chiti is leaving his position to take a job with the Atlanta Braves, according to industry sources.
Chiti will rejoin the Braves as the team’s senior director of pitching, a role in which he will work with major league pitchers and also be involved with scouting and advisory. The hiring could be formally announced as early as Thursday.
The departures of Chiti and pitching coach Dave Wallace, who announced his retirement from active major league coaching at the end of the season, leave a significant void on manager Buck Showalter’s staff.
Wallace and Chiti worked together closely on all major league pitching matters and provided the Orioles with continuity that had been missing. Now they will work together again, but with a different organization.
The Braves are signing Wallace to a two-year deal as a roving pitching instructor and adviser.
Both coaches came to the Orioles from Atlanta’s organization before the 2014 season.
Showalter expected Chiti to remain on his coaching staff and considered him to fill the open pitching coach position. Wallace emphasized his desire to return to the organization in a role where he could still help develop young pitchers.
But the Orioles allowed the contracts of both coaches to expire on Oct. 31 before making them any renewal offers, according to sources.
With Wallace and Chiti, the Orioles advanced to the postseason twice in their three years on staff. Chiti’s bullpen posted a 3.40 ERA in 2016, best in the American League and third in the majors.
This season, closer Zach Britton emerged as one of the game’s best closers, converting all 47 save opportunities, and right-hander Brad Brach enjoyed his best season in a setup role. Both were named All-Stars.
Upon Wallace’s departure, Britton and Brach credited him and Chiti on Twitter for playing a major role in their success.
“Sad to see Dave Wallace go,” Britton tweeted. “Very grateful for all he has done for me and my family. Any success I've had is a credit to [Wallace] and Dom Chiti.”
Brach tweeted: “Tough day seeing Dave Wallace move on from the O's. Who knows where my career would be without him and Dom Chiti. I owe all credit to them!”
Both Chiti and Wallace were also credited for helping budding right-handers Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy take significant steps forward this season.
Chiti, who previously served as bullpen coach under Showalter with the Texas Rangers, has a diverse coaching and scouting background. Before becoming the Orioles bullpen coach, he was a special assistant to the general manager with the Braves.
He worked in the Rangers and Cleveland Indians organizations as a scout, coach and adviser and began his coaching career with the Orioles in 1982, spending nine years in the organization as a minor league pitching coach and roving instructor. As a player, Chiti was a minor league pitcher in the Braves and Orioles organizations.
The losses of Chiti and Wallace could accelerate the Orioles’ pursuit of former Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell, whom Wallace mentored with Atlanta. McDowell’s option for next year was not exercised by the Braves.