By Shannon Drayer
PEORIA, Ariz. – Barring any surprise signings in the next six days, it would appear that the competition for the Mariners’ final three rotation spots is down to three now that Randy Wolf has asked for and been granted his release.
“They told me I made the team but they wanted me to sign the 45-day advance consent release,” Wolf said Tuesday. “I was principally objected to that because we negotiated in good faith in February on a very team-friendly contract if I were to make the team. I felt like I came in in amazing shape, I pitched great, I earned a spot on the team, they told me I earned a spot on the team, and then to me that advance consent thing is kind of renegotiating a contract.
“I told them I wouldn’t sign it. I disagreed with that.”
With Randy Wolf no longer in the mix, the Mariners have three internal candidates for the final three rotation spots. (AP)
The clause is a part of the basic agreement between baseball and the players union but cannot be negotiated in deals. It is an avenue that basically gives teams the chance to get a look at a player in the regular season and provides an out in those 45 days if they don’t like what they see. It cannot be made part of the contract until that player is about to make the club. The contract can be terminated for performance reasons but not health or injury problems.
“All we did was ask Randy to sign the 45-day clause, which is very common. It is not unusual, it happens a lot,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “All it does is gives us a degree of protection. We didn’t have any fear of anything happening to Randy but he has not been on a mound in a Major League Baseball game in a year and a half.”
Wolf seemed surprised that the Mariners asked him to sign the clause, although at the very least his agent should have known it was a possibility. If Wolf made the major-league team he would be given a contract worth nearly $1 million that had a number of incentives as well. The question that was probably in his mind was how long would the team need him with Taijuan Walker and Hisashi Iwakuma coming back. He could compete for the more permanent No. 3 spot in the rotation but there was no guarantee that he would win it.
“It’s a rule that gives a lot of power back to the teams,” Wolf said, “especially with players that they consider low tier. It’s not even health risk. It’s really if they want to send you down or release you. I felt that what I signed for it was basically just above the minimum salary. I was uncomfortable with the fact that that seemed like such a financial risk considering that I came in and earned a spot.”
Wolf called the situation a bitter pill to swallow. It had been a good spring for him and he was very pleased with where he was at coming off his second Tommy John surgery. He was very disappointed that the news that he had made the club was accompanied by the request to sign the clause.
“The day should have started with a handshake and congratulations instead of a 24-hour feeling of licking a D-cell battery,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate,” Zduriencik said. “We made it reasonably clear yesterday that we would give him the opportunity to break with us but we also wanted him to sign the 45-day clause for that to happen and he refused to do it. We were within our legal rights within the baseball basic agreement and that is where I guess misunderstanding came in. Randy felt strongly that he has come in and pitched well on this club and he had every right to basically pitch the entire year and be paid the salary accordingly, and we just saw a little differently.”
Wolf said that he hopes to catch on with another team and it would appear that there could be a number of opportunities.
As for the Mariners, with two competitors for the rotation leaving the team in the last 24 hours there are just three pitchers remaining for three spots. Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Beavan and Roenis Elias most likely have made this club and Hector Noesi is depth assuming he isn’t claimed as he is out of options.
Yes, they are thin on starters right now, but Zduriencik expects to have a number of his injured pitchers back soon. Until then we will have about a month long audition of the remaining three to see who sticks.