David Aardsma declines to exercise opt-out clause with Cardinals

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The Cardinals signed reliever David Aardsma to a minor league contract near the end of March. Aardsma, who had spent spring training with the Indians, was given an opt-out date of May 15 in the deal. MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Aardsma has chosen to stay with the Cardinals with their Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

Aardsma, 32, has enjoyed good results in the minor leagues thus far, owning a 1.59 ERA along with a 15/8 K/BB ratio in 17 innings. That Aardsma has chosen not to exercise the opt-out clause could indicate that he’s confident he’ll get a chance to contribute out of the Cardinals’ bullpen sooner rather than later. That could mean the roster spots belonging to Seth Maness or Eric Fornataro could be vulnerable.

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.