BY Adam Lewis 07:46PM 03/25/2014

Randy Wolf quits Mariners in contract dispute

Mariners lose starting pitcher after Wolf refuses to sign standard document that would allow club to cut him within 45 days without paying his full contract of $1 million.

Negotiations between Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik and pitcher Randy Wolf broke down Tuesday and Wolf was granted his release. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

The Mariners were ready to begin the regular season with left-handed pitcher Randy Wolf in the back end of the rotation. A non-roster invitee coming off Tommy John surgery, Wolf, 37, strung together five decent spring training starts (0-0, 4.26 ERA, 1.32 WHIP in 19 innings), resuscitating his career after missing all of 2013.

When Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Wolf he made the team Tuesday, it came with a stipulation: Wolf had to sign a 45-day advanced-consent relief form.

Wolf refused to sign the form. He asked for his release and the Mariners granted it.

“The day should have started with a handshake and congratulations instead of a 24-hour feeling of licking a D cell battery,” Wolf told Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times.

An advanced-consent relief form isn’t typically discussed publicly but is sometimes part of MLB contracts for league veterans, according to ESPN.com’s Keith Law.

For the Mariners, a signed form meant they wouldn’t be required to pay Wolf a full season’s salary if they cut him before the 45 days expired. They would be responsible only for the pro-rated portion of the season. Wolf, a 14-year veteran bidding to join his seventh MLB team, signed with the Mariners for $1 million.

A team can’t introduce the form during contract negotiations, according to the most recent collective bargaining agreement. It can be presented only after a player makes the big-league roster.

So why did Wolf walk?

“I was principally objected to that, simply because we negotiated in good faith in February on a team-friendly contract,” Wolf told Divish. “I felt like I came in amazing shape, I pitched great and I earned a  spot on the team. They told me I earned the spot on the team. But to me, the advanced-consent thing is kind of renegotiating a contract, so I told them I wouldn’t sign (it), and I disagreed with it.”

The Mariners expect No. 2 pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (strained finger tendon) and No. 3 pitcher Taijuan Walker (shoulder inflammation) to return from injuries by the end of April. At that point, Wolf understands the Mariners could release him without having to pay the full $1 million.

“It’s a rule that gives a lot of power back to the team,” Wolf said. “It’s really if they want to send you down, or release you. I felt with what I signed for, that it was just above the major league minimum, that I was uncomfortable that it seemed like such a financial risk, considering I came in and earned a spot.”

Zduriencik admitted as much but said the Mariners weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary.

“All we did was ask Randy to sign the 45-day clause, which is very common and not unusual,” he said. “It gives us a degree of protection. We didn’t have any fear of anything happening to Randy, but he hasn’t been on a mound in a regular season baseball game in a year-and-a-half.”

It’s unclear whether the Mariners violated a good-faith agreement with Wolf.

More clear is that left-hander Roenis Elias and right-hander Blake Beavan will begin the regular season in the No. 4-5 spots in the rotation.

The Mariners released pitcher Scott Baker Monday and plan to have Elias, a Southern League All-Star last season in Double-A, make another start before they begin the regular season Monday against the Angels.

Beavan slides into the No. 5 spot, but he’s been terrible in his last two starts and has given up 17 earned runs, six via home runs, in 23.2 Cactus League innings.


YourThoughts

  • 1coolguy

    If the M’s were expecting a 37 year old in their starting rotation is shows just how crappy they will, again, be this year.

    FIRE Jack Z and we can only pray Lincoln goes this year also, Ugh………………..

    • art thiel

      So if they brought back Kevin Millwood, would you be happy?

      • jafabian

        Last year I would have preferred Millwood over Harang or Saunders. At least he was a part of a no-hitter.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Erik Beddard just became available. He is a few years younger~35. Perhaps he pops back up in the NW again…

    • art thiel

      Lurking . . . Carlos Silva!

      • notaboomer

        roy oswalt

        • RadioGuy

          Why not Jim Bouton? We need an Absolutely Positively Final Edition of “Ball Four” and even at 75 he might be able to get a knuckler to move.

  • jafabian

    I understand the M’s wanting some protection considering Wolf’s age and injury history but shouldn’t that have been discussed at the original contract negotiation? What would Wolf’s motivation have been to sign the clause? Now the rotation is really hurting. The M’s really needed a veteran #3 starter and the two they brought in to compete for the role are gone. And their #2 could start the season on the DL.

    • art thiel

      Wolf obviously felt that he was capable of earning the $1M. The fact that he didn’t know about the 45-day trap door is between him and his agent.

      On the other hand, is eating $1M so bad compared to the embarrassment the M’s are experiencing, along with another faltering April?

      • jafabian

        April scares me. The M’s have no real leadoff hitter, no one is capable of giving Cano the protection he needs in the lineup, there’s only one proven starting pitcher and no solid set up reliever. The M’s could be in a serious hole come May 1st. I think the M’s should have eaten the $1 mil if it meant making Beaven the #5 starter based on his spring.

  • Jeff Shope

    a million is nothing for a starting pitcher anyway seems like M’s got cheap and got burned.They paid figgins a lot more and got nothing either

    • art thiel

      Fair point. They’ve thrown away more on less.

  • Jeff Shope

    typical M’s move don’t care if it’s standard it’s underhanded

  • Matt

    Or maybe now that Wolf had a decent Spring training he’d like to play for another team, ANY other team than the Mariners? He could have been looking for an out.

    • jafabian

      Most likely he feels that the M’s weren’t completely honest in their negotiations with him and that he had a good enough camp to where all teams know he can pitch and that he can a better deal with another team.

      • art thiel

        Not sure if honesty was an issue. Wolf’s agent had to know before signing. It’s a CBA rule, not a Mariners rule.

  • Greg

    Jack was spotted again, in drag, fingering all of the merchandise on the baseball isle at the Shop-N-Save…

    • art thiel

      There’s a blue-light special going on at the microfracture table . . .

  • just passing thru

    Poor Felix – once again, he’s the only MLB SP on the Mariners to start the year.

    • art thiel

      $175M does help, however.

      • notaboomer

        plus he’s a nice guy and seems to live around here. gave my kid an autograph at the grocery store.