Cardinals make Dave Duncan the highest paid pitching coach

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Not only did Dave Duncan talk the Cardinals into giving him a two-year contract when the rest of Tony La Russa’s coaching staff was offered only one-year deals, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that he’ll be the highest paid pitching coach in baseball.

According to Strauss he’ll get a base salary of around $750,000 per season, which still seems like a bargain given that most managers earn several times that much and teams regularly pay twice that for mediocre veteran bench players.

Putting a coach’s impact into wins and losses if often tough, but Duncan has been La Russa’s pitching coach for 28 seasons and has done an amazing job taking veterans off the scrap heap and turning them into viable contributors in St. Louis.

And of course he’s overseen the development of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright into elite starters. When one of the most successful pitching coaches of all time makes less than guys like Adam Everett, Alex Cora, and Juan Castro that either says MLB teams don’t actually think pitching coaches are that valuable or the Cardinals are getting a helluva deal with Duncan. Or maybe both, I suppose.

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.