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Randy Wolf Rumors
Veteran starter Randy Wolf, who’s with the Blue Jays‘ Triple-A team in Buffalo, is grateful merely that the Jays gave him a chance, John Lott of the National Post writes. The 38-year-old Wolf offers an unusually candid look at the challenges a veteran can face near the end of his career. Wolf is a 15-year veteran and pitched for the Marlins just last season, but he says he had trouble even getting teams to take him seriously last offseason. “Teams would not even watch me throw,” says Wolf. “I had one team that agreed to watch me throw and they didn’t even show up.” Wolf has a 1.10 ERA in 41 innings with Buffalo so far, although with 5.7 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9. He says he’s just enjoying pitching, and not worrying about whether the Jays decide to call him up to the Majors. Here’s more from the American League.
- Shaun Marcum will start for the Indians on Wednesday in place of the recently-DFA’ed Bruce Chen, Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. That will require the Indians to give Marcum a spot on both their 40-man and 25-man rosters. The 33-year-old Marcum has posted a 1.36 ERA in 33 innings for Triple-A Columbus, although with a modest 6.0 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. He pitched five innings for the Indians earlier this season before they designated him for assignment in mid-April.
- The Astros are “at least going to have a conversation” about each of the top players available on this summer’s trade market, but they don’t plan to make a big move quite yet, GM Jeff Luhnow tells MLB Network Radio’s Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden (audio link). Luhnow adds that he feels the Astros’ collection of prospects makes the team a viable trade partner for organizations looking to trade star veterans. In the meantime, though, the Astros want to spend more time evaluating their own players, and particularly their starting pitchers behind Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh.
WEDNESDAY: The Blue Jays have officially announced the signing. Wolf will be in minor-league camp.
MONDAY: The Blue Jays have agreed to a minor league deal with veteran lefty Randy Wolf, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter), who cites big league umpire Jim Wolf (Randy’s brother) as the source of the news. Wolf showcased for the Jays recently, as Gideon Turk of BlueJaysPlus.com tweeted. Wolf would earn $800K on the big league roster and can opt out on June 1, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
Wolf, 38, tossed 25 2/3 innings last year for the Marlins, posting a 5.26 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9. He also spent time in the Diamondbacks, Angels, and Orioles systems. Before all that happened, he turned down a chance to open the year as a member of the Mariners rotation because he refused to sign an advance-consent form late in the spring. (MLBTR’s Zach Links reported on the details of that situation here.)
For Toronto, the 15-year major leaguer represents another depth piece, joining Johan Santana and Jeff Francis as veteran southpaw options. One or more members of that grouping could conceivably provide some versatility at the MLB level by operating as a longman, LOOGY, and/or spot starter. With Marcus Stroman out for the year, the club is obviously looking to ensure it has arms lined up to last the season.
We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here.
- The Angels have signed pitcher Randy Wolf to a minor league deal, according to MiLB.com. Wolf has had a busy season — he was released by the Mariners near the end of spring training, opted out of his deal with the Diamondbacks, was signed and then designated for assignment by the Marlins, and then opted out of a deal with the Orioles. He appeared in six games with Miami, allowing 15 earned runs in 25 2/3 innings.
- The Giants have announced that they’ve purchased the contract of catcher Andrew Susac. Catcher Hector Sanchez will head to the 7-day DL. MLB.com ranks Susac the Giants’ third-best prospect, noting his good power and plate discipline. He’s hit .268/.379/.451 for Triple-A Fresno this year.
- Jair Jurrjens will start for Triple-A Colorado Springs today, which means he’s accepted his outright assignment, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. The Rockies designated Jurrjens for assignment earlier this week.
- The Mets will place Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list with elbow trouble and purchase the contract of fellow pitcher Buddy Carlyle, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin tweets. The Mets outrighted Carlyle earlier this week. The righty has appeared in five games for the Mets this season. He posted a 2.16 ERA with 9.7 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 33 1/3 innings for Triple-A Las Vegas.
Here are today’s minor league transactions, with the latest moves at the top of the post…
- The Orioles have released pitcher Tim Alderson, David Hall of the Virginian Pilot tweets. The Giants traded Alderson, a 2007 first-round pick and former top prospect, to the Pirates for Freddy Sanchez in 2009, and the Bucs traded him to the Orioles for Russ Canzler last year. In 50 innings for Triple-A Norfolk this season, Alderson had a 6.12 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9.
- The Cardinals have outrighted outfielder Mike O’Neill after designating him for assignment Friday, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. O’Neill, 26, has hit .258/.343/.341 in 320 plate appearances this season for Double-A Springfield.
- Pitcher Chien-Ming Wang has opted out of his deal with the Reds, the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay tweets. Wang pitched 119 1/3 innings for Triple-A Louisville, posting a 3.70 ERA with 3.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. He last appeared in the big leagues last season with the Blue Jays.
- The Yankees have announced they have outrighted right-hander Jim Miller to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Miller was designated for assignment Friday.
- Randy Wolf has cleared out his locker and has left the Orioles‘ Triple-A team, tweets David Hall of the Virginian-Pilot. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweeted Wolf opted out of his contract. The 37-year-old appeared in six games for Norfolk, including one start, and posted a 4.20 ERA with a 12-to-5 K-BB ratio in 15 innings.
- Blue Jays right-hander Bobby Korecky has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Buffalo, the club announced (hat tip to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith). Korecky was designated for assignment on Friday. The righty posted an 8.10 ERA over 3 1/3 relief innings for Toronto this season in his first taste of Major League action since a one-game cup of coffee in 2012.
- The White Sox have released right-hander Henry Rodriguez, the team announced. Rodriguez just recently signed a minor league deal with the Sox but posted a 21.60 ERA, three strikeouts and a whopping eight walks over 1 2/3 innings with Triple-A Charlotte. That lack of control has been the story of Rodriguez’s career, as the righty has recorded a 6.4 BB/9 over 150 1/3 Major League innings with the Marlins, Cubs, Nationals and A’s over six seasons in the Show, though his high-90’s fastball has helped him record 151 strikeouts. This is the second time Rodriguez has been released this season, as the Marlins already cut ties with him in June.
Edward Creech and Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Padres are set to promote Odrisamer Despaigne, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. They’ll need to clear a spot on their 40-man roster to make space for him. Despaigne, a Cuban pitcher who the Padres signed to a minor league deal in May, had two good starts for Double-A San Antonio before posting a 7.61 ERA in five starts for Triple-A El Paso. He did, however, post 11.0 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 23 2/3 innings there. Despaigne will start in place of Andrew Cashner on Monday, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman suggests (via Twitter). (The Padres are merely being “conservative” in scratching Cashner, Heyman says, although he does not give an exact reason why Cashner won’t be starting.)
- The Orioles have signed Randy Wolf to a minor league contract and he will pitch three innings for Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, tweets David Hall of the Virginian-Pilot. The deal is pending a physical, tweets MASNsports.com Roch Kubatko.
- Right-hander Josh Stinson has accepted his outright assignment by the Orioles to Triple-A Norfolk, tweets Kubatko and MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli.
- The Orioles have outrighted right-hander Edgmer Escalona to Triple-A, tweets Hall. In a separate tweet, Hall reports Escalona is still processing the move and will consult his agent as to whether to accept the outright or declare free agency. The 27-year-old has appeared in six games (three starts) for Norfolk this year posting a 6.10 ERA, 6.1 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 in 20 2/3 innings.
- The Cubs added left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to their 40-man roster and optioned him to Triple-A Iowa, the club announced. Wada has been pitching for Iowa all season but, as Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald tweets, the Japanese southpaw had an opt-out clause in his contract, so putting Wada on the 40-man allows the Cubs to keep him. Signed to a minor league deal in the offseason, Wada has an impressive 2.81 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 3.61 K/BB rate in 14 Triple-A starts in 2014.
- The Phillies released outfielder Tyson Gillies, the team announced. A career .284/.364/.411 hitter over 2060 minor league PA, Gillies struggled at the Triple-A level over the last two seasons. Gillies joined the Phillies from the Mariners organization in December 2009 as part of the trade package (along with J.C. Ramirez and Phillippe Aumont) that Philadelphia acquired from Seattle in exchange for Cliff Lee.
- The Tigers shifted right-hander Luke Putkonen from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL in order to create a 40-man roster spot for the newly-recalled Pat McCoy, the team announced. In another corresponding move, Ian Krol was put on the 15-day DL to make room for McCoy on the 25-man roster. Putkonen only pitched 2 2/3 innings for Detroit and five total minor league innings this season due to elbow problems, and he is expected to be out for 6-8 weeks after recently undergoing surgery.
- Per MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker, there are six players in DFA limbo: Kevin Slowey (Marlins), Josh Outman (Indians), Evan Reed (Tigers), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks), Jake Dunning (Giants), and Roger Bernadina (Reds).
Edward Creech and Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
We’ll keep track of the day’s minor moves right here:
- Pitcher Randy Wolf has cleared outright waivers and elected free agency, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (via Twitter). The 37-year-old southpaw ultimately threw 25 2/3 frames for Miami, working to a 5.26 ERA and registering 19 strikeouts against just six walks. He will now look for his fourth organization of the season.
- Outrighted on Monday, Diamondbacks corner infielder/outfielder Nick Evans has decided to accept his assignment rather than electing free agency, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 28-year-old saw only 11 plate appearances with Arizona, but managed a home run in his only hit. It was his first taste of the big leagues since a run of partial-season action with the Mets between 2008-11. Evans has been enjoying his finest season at Triple-A, and he will return to a .335/.393/.641 triple-slash.
- MLBTR’s DFA Tracker shows only two players in limbo, each of whom was designated yesterday: Grady Sizemore (Red Sox) and Josh Stinson (Orioles).
The Marlins announced that they have designated right-hander Kevin Slowey and left-hander Randy Wolf for assignment as part of a series of roster moves. Additionally, Christian Yelich and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have been placed on the 15-day DL, and Donovan Solano has been optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. Miami will recall right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, outfielder Jake Marisnick and first baseman Justin Bour. Most notably, top prospect Andrew Heaney will also be promoted to the Majors for the first time.
Heaney (pictured) was the ninth overall selection in the 2012 draft and entered the season ranked as the game’s No. 30 prospect according to both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. MLB.com ranked the 23-year-old as the game’s No. 29 prospect, and ESPN’s Keith Law ranked him 34th entering the season.
Heaney has shredded minor league hitters this season, pitching to a 2.47 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 76 2/3 innings between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans. Should he remain with the team through season’s end, he would accrue 106 days of Major League service time, meaning that he should fall well shy of Super Two status.
The former Oklahoma State ace has a fastball that sits in the low 90s and touches 95 mph regularly, per Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com. That plus heater is accompanied by a “wipeout” slider that Mayo and Callis grade as Heaney’s best pitch, as well as a changeup that the duo describes as a “good third pitch.” BA’s scouting reports notes that his fastball can reach 97 mph when he needs the heat, but Heaney has learned that he pitches with better command when throwing in the 91 to 93 mph range. BA also noted that holding runners has been a weakness for Heaney dating back to college (19 of 20 attempted base-stealers were successful against him in 2013), but he’s allowed just six steals in nine attempts in 2014.
The 37-year-old Wolf signed a Major League deal with the Marlins in May after opting out of his minor league deal with the Diamondbacks. He posted a 5.26 ERA with a strong 19-to-6 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings with the Fish, and his 87.7 mph fastball velocity wasn’t too far off his career mark of 88.2 mph. Wolf’s stint with the Marlins was his first Major League work since late 2012, as he missed last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Sabermetric ERA estimators such as FIP (4.33), xFIP (3.87) and SIERA (3.99) all feel that he was the victim of some poor luck.
Slowey, 30, posted similar numbers to Wolf, compiling a 5.30 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 37 1/3 innings. He, too, was the victim of a very lofty batting average on balls in play (.382), which no doubt contributed to his lofty ERA. Slowey has always been a soft-tossing fly-ball pitcher, but he has excellent command and a respectable 4.62 ERA in 662 career innings with the Twins and Marlins.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
8:49pm: Wolf did agree to a 45-day advance consent form with the Marlins, reports Rosenthal (links to Twitter). He explained that he was comfortable agreeing to those terms this time around because he was signing in the middle of the season. Wolf was set to opt out and join another (unnamed) club when the Marlins offered him the chance to join their rotation, Rosenthal adds.
2:32pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Wolf will earn a $1MM base salary plus performance incentives (Twitter link).
2:11pm: Randy Wolf exercised an opt-out clause with the D’Backs earlier this afternoon and has a new team just hours later. The Marlins have officially announced the signing of the Wasserman Media Group client to a one-year, Major League deal. Wolf will reportedly slot into Miami’s rotation, though it sounds like he’ll be backing up rookie Anthony DeSclafani in tonight’s game.
Earlier this afternoon, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reported that the Marlins were working to make a pitching addition that was not currently part of the organization, and Wolf would clearly fits that bill.
The 37-year-old Wolf underwent Tommy John surgery late in the 2012 season, but he looks to be fully recovered after a strong Spring Training with the Mariners and a respectable showing in six starts for the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate in Reno. Wolf posted a 4.50 ERA with a 35-to-18 K/BB ratio while in Reno. He had originally made the Mariners’ roster out of Spring Training as the fifth starter but instead requested his release when the team asked that he sign a 45-day advance-consent clause that would’ve allowed them to terminate the deal for any non-injury reason in that window.
Wolf is a 14-year big league veteran that has a 4.20 ERA with 7.0 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 39 percent ground-ball rate in 2268 innings between the Phillies, Brewers, Padres, Dodgers, Astros and Orioles. Miami has a definite need for pitching depth after the devastating news that their young ace, Jose Fernandez, will likely miss the remainder of the season due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
With Fernandez out for the season, Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez are locks in the rotation. Jacob Turner has been starting as well, but he’s battled shoulder problems that have likely hampered his effectiveness. Tom Koehler‘s hot start likely leaves him with a rotation spot locked down as well. In addition to DeSclafani, Miami has a slew of pitching prospects that are nearly Major League ready, though none are as intriguing as 2012 first-round pick Andrew Heaney, who has been simply dominant to this point in his minor league career.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Diamondbacks announced that left-hander Randy Wolf has exercised his opt-out clause and been granted his release, making the veteran a free agent.
Wolf inked a minor league deal with the D’Backs after requesting his release from the Mariners at the end of Spring Training. Though he’d all but made the club, Seattle wanted Wolf to sign a 45-day advance consent release clause that would have allowed the team to terminate his deal at any time for any non-injury reason, to which Wolf objected.
The 37-year-old veteran looks to be recovered from Tommy John surgery that he underwent late in the 2012 season, as he enjoyed a solid Spring Training and has pitched reasonably well in six starts with Triple-A Reno in the Diamondbacks organization. With Reno, Wolf posted a 4.50 ERA and whiffed 35 hitters in 34 innings while walking 18. He is a veteran of 14 Major League seasons and owns a career 4.20 ERA with 7.0 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 39 percent ground-ball rate in 2268 innings with the Phillies, Brewers, Padres, Dodgers, Astros and Orioles.
As Opening Day drew near, veteran Randy Wolf appeared to be the frontrunner for the No. 5 spot in the Mariners' rotation. That's why it came as a bit of a surprise when he requested his release from the club on March 25th. It turned out that Wolf, who missed all of 2013 as he recovered from his second Tommy John surgery, refused to sign a 45-day advance-consent form. The form, for the uninitiated, would have allowed the M's to terminate the deal during that window for any reason except injury.
While sources tell MLBTR that these requests are common throughout MLB, Wolf told Bob Dutton of The News Tribune that he was quite upset about it. The 37-year-old felt as though he was put in a position where he had to renegotiate his deal just months after hammering out a team-friendly pact ($1MM for making big league roster with $3MM+ in incentives) days before the start of the season. “The fact that I essentially made the team, in theory, I’m proud of that accomplishment.” the veteran told Dutton. “But I’m really disappointed in how it ended. The day should have started with a handshake and congratulations instead of a 24-hour feeling of licking a D-cell battery. So, it’s a really hard time.”
Of course, the Mariners and General Manager Jack Zduriencik acted completely within the rights granted to them by the Collective Bargaining Agreement: the advance consent form has been in place since the end of the 1994/1995 strike. And, as expected, Wolf wasn't out of work for very long, as he signed a similar minor league deal with the Diamondbacks late last week. However, Wolf's ire about the relatively unknown clause raised some interesting questions about how frequently it's used, the ways it could be misused, and how it is viewed by executives, agents, players, and the players union.
"As a general matter, players hate it," one union source said. "These are players, needless to say, who did not have a lot of leverage in their negotiations in the offseason…There's no question that it is a distasteful process for players and their agents."
The use of the form varies greatly from club to club. One high-ranking executive told MLBTR that his club has asked a player to sign an advance consent form just once over the last decade. On the flipside, a National League executive said that anytime his team has a player with five or more years of major league service (the form cannot be extended to those with less service time per the CBA) who does not figure to be an everyday player, they will use the clause in order to give themselves as much flexibility as possible. In line with that thinking, the club often will push for players to agree to optional assignment rather than outright assignment. If the player consents to outright assignment, the club does not have to subject the player to waivers before demoting him. Again, per the CBA, both types are permitted.
Because the request is traditionally made of players who don't have a ton of leverage, they often agree to sign. The NL exec has found that there are times when agents will protest, but with the leverage being in the club's corner, they'll ultimately relent.
"If the agent gives you push back, then you say, 'Okay, we'll go with someone else because we need the flexibility.' I've never had an agent not back down," he explained. "I tell them once you get [to the big league roster], you could stay there for a heck of a long time. We never do it with the intent to send them down and keep them there."
Of course, as in Wolf's case, some players do object, and agents will often consult with the union ("We act as a sounding board," the source explained) to talk through their different options. The form can allow for both types of assignments and the length can also be negotiated since the 45-day mark is not a hard number, but rather a maximum limit.
The union source explained that at the beginning of the season, about a dozen players are usually asked to sign a consent form. Over the course of the season, that number tends to grow to "30-to-36" requests. The distinction between the number of players who are asked to sign off and the number of requests is an important one. Several players in any given year will be asked to sign multiple consent forms, which can essentially keep them in a state of limbo.
The aforementioned executive told MLBTR that agents often fret over the possibility of their clients being asked to sign multiple forms, though he was unsure of whether that was common practice or just a fear of player reps. "It's absolutely a reality," the MLBPA source said. "There are players who have signed three advance consents in a season, which obviously covers the better part of a full season." It should be noted that while there have been cases of a player being churned through consecutive advanced consent forms, the union indicated that there aren't specific clubs who are routine offenders.
Wolf felt blindsided by the Mariners' request at the end of March, but the reality is that he wasn't guaranteed at the time of signing that he wouldn't be asked to sign an advance consent form as a condition of making the major league roster, agent Joel Wolfe confirmed to MLBTR. In this case, Wolfe and Wolf had non-roster offers from ten clubs this offseason after he impressed in his winter showcase. Wolf and Wolfe ultimately settled on the M's because they felt that they gave him the best chance to make a big league rotation. However, they were rebuffed when they asked for assurance that they wouldn't be asked to sign off on advance consent.
"They told me, 'We don't do that' and, really, no team that I've dealt with does that. They don't even want to discuss that," Wolfe said. "The team made a decision as a policy, not singling out Randy, that a player in this position must sign an advance consent or he's not going to make the team."
One would be hard-pressed to find a team in MLB that explicitly warns players about a possible advance consent request. The union official indicated that while teams won't do it, agents usually give their low-leverage clients a heads up to brace for the possibility. The NL exec said he does not warn players of the possibility at the time of signing, but if an agent asks, he always answers truthfully.
In a lot of cases, being asked for advance consent is a blow to a player's ego and a very real source of frustration. However, there are certainly cases where it can work in a player's favor. Wolfe explained that he once had a client who seemed destined to either start the season in Double-A or get released. However, the player exceeded all expectations in Spring Training and wound up on course to make the big league roster. The club had Wolfe's client sign an advance consent form and soon after when he suffered an serious injury, he was protected from release since a player cannot be cut due to injury. While Wolf's situation put the notion of advance consent in a negative light, it can also be beneficial for players in a different position.
That doesn't mean that advance consent will be embraced by the majority of major leaguers. As Wolfe explained, an accomplished veteran like Wolf is accustomed to using Spring Training as an opportunity to shake off some offseason rust and get back in the swing of things. When that player is on a non-guaranteed deal, they now have to approach every at bat and every inning as though it were the regular season. After putting in that kind of effort, veteran players don't want to hear, "Hey, you made the team, but…" Whether they like it or not, players will be subjected to advance consent requests for at least a couple more years. Even then, it's far from guaranteed that the issue will be revisited or revised in the 2016 CBA discussions.