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Last week we wrote about the Cubs being in talks with Rudy Jaramillo to be the new hitting coach, and why it made sense. Well, apparently the Cubs felt it made sense too, so much so that they gave Jaramillo more money than many of their players will be making over the next few years.

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs and Jaramillo have agreed to a three-year, $2.42 million contract:

The Cubs will announce Wednesday that former Texas Rangers hitting instructor Rudy Jaramillo has signed a three-year, $2.42 million contract to become Chicago's next hitting coach, player sources told on Tuesday.

Jaramillo and his wife will fly to Chicago Wednesday to meet with Cubs officials and attend a mid-afternoon press conference after he officially signs his new contract, sources said. The Cubs' new hitting coach was the second highest-paid coach in baseball in 2009. St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan reportedly made $850,000 last year and has been the highest-paid coach in baseball for a number of years.
Link(ESPN Chicago)

It might be overpaying, but I think it's a solid move for a Cubs team that's going to need to improve their offense mainly from within. Now Jim Hendry will likely focus on unloading Milton Bradley, even though Bradley led the American League in OPS with Jaramillo as his hitting coach in 2008.

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There's been much talk over the last few days about Rudy Jaramillo as a possibility to take over the job as the new Cubs hitting coach. Jaramillo was the Texas Rangers hitting coach for the last 15 seasons, but recently rejected a one-year offer to return to the team.

According to the reputable Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated and MLB Network, the Cubs are in talks with Jaramillo and it's likely he'll take the job:
#cubs are in contact with rudy jaramillo about hitting coach job. it is believed he's likely to take the gig.
Link(Jon Heyman's Twitter)

Signing Jaramillo to be the hitting coach really makes a lot of sense for a Cubs offense that greatly underperformed at the plate in 2009. Jaramillo's been very successful in Texas, where offensively they've ranked near the top of the league in major categories during most of his tenure as hitting coach. He helped Milton Bradley(but of course he likely won't be in a Cubs uniform in 2010) lead the American League in OPS in 2008, and Alfonso Soriano put up solid numbers in 2004 and 2005 in Texas.

Sure the Ballpark at Arlington is a favorable hitter's park and Jaramillo's had a lot of talent to work with, but he's a very well respected hitting coach that has received some rave reviews from players. Here's an example from one of the greatest hitters of all-time, Alex Rodriguez:

"Rudy is unbelievably good," Alex Rodriguez said. "He understands hitting, how to work with all kinds of hitters, and he busts his butt to get the best from hitters. He helped me get better when I was in Texas, sometimes making me work when I wouldn't have if he hadn't been on me. I've seen him do it with other guys too."
Link("Rudy Jaramillo could be answer to Chicago Cubs' hitting woes"-Chicago Tribune)

For this Cubs offense, it's going to be more about maximizing the talent they have rather than going out and making major player moves. Sure, adding a middle-of-the-order bat to replace Bradley is very possible, and it sounds like they'd really like to add more speed, possibly by signing a player like the Angels' Chone Figgins. But how far this team goes will be decided by the health of the team, and the performance of players like Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto, who were each terrible at the plate in 2009. Getting them to produce anything like they did in 2008 would go a long way to getting the Cubs' offense back to the offense that dominated the National League that season.

Look for Jaramillo to be signed, and don't be surprised if it ends up being the best addition the Cubs make this offseason.

UPDATE(10/16/09, 1:00 AM ET): David Kaplan just wrote this on his blog:
GM Jim Hendry has been super aggressive since Jaramillo made it known that he would be leaving the Rangers and most baseball executives expect Jaramillo to choose the Cubs. Look for the Cubs to land him and to sign him to a multi year deal worth at least $750,000 per season which would make him the highest paid hitting coach in the game.

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