02/06/09 10:50 PM EST
Dodgers sign Wolf to one-year deal
Return of left-hander will help bolster young rotation for LA
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
But they did sign left-handed starting pitcher Randy Wolf to bolster their rotation.
General manager Ned Colletti said he hasn't had any talks on Ramirez in the last two days, but he was pleased to announce the signing of Wolf, who received a one-year deal for $5 million guaranteed plus an additional $3 million in incentives.
The return of Wolf, who pitched for the Dodgers in 2007, has been one of the "other" winter-long goals of the club after losing veteran starters Derek Lowe, Brad Penny and Greg Maddux.
Wolf, 12-12 last year while splitting time between San Diego and Houston, pitched well for the Dodgers in the first half of '07 (9-6), but he missed the second half of the season with lingering shoulder problems that required surgery.
"We took a long look at it," Colletti said when asked about Wolf's health. "He made a lot of starts last year (33) and pitched a lot of innings (190 1/3). You never know until later. As far as we can tell, he's healthier than two years ago."
Wolf rebounded well enough from that shoulder surgery following the year with the Dodgers for the Astros to make a three-year offer to keep him shortly after the 2008 season ended, but the club quickly withdrew the offer as the economic climate worsened.
His Dodgers incentives are keyed to performance and durability, with an additional $500,000 at each of these innings totals: 170, 180, 185, 190, 195 and 200. Wolf last threw 200 innings in 2003.
Wolf joins a rotation with tentative starters Chad Billingsley (recovering from a broken leg), Hiroki Kuroda and Clayton Kershaw. Another spot likely is to be contested by a group that includes Jason Schmidt, Claudio Vargas, Eric Stults, Ramon Troncoso and Shawn Estes.
Wolf gives the Dodgers rotation a second left-hander, but more importantly he provides a seasoned professional and leader of an otherwise very young staff. He's also local, a graduate of El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills and Pepperdine University in Malibu, where he schooled after declining to sign with the Dodgers when they took him in the 25th round of the 1994 First-Year Player Draft.
The Phillies drafted him in the second round in 1997, and he was in the Major Leagues two years later. Wolf pitched eight Major League seasons for Philadelphia, when he was healthy. His 2005 and '06 seasons were interrupted by elbow problems that required Tommy John elbow ligament replacement to solve.
Wolf, 32, has a 90-78 record over 10 seasons in the Major Leagues. He was an All-Star in 2003, when he went 16-10. He's a strikeout pitcher, extremely tough against left-handed hitters and helps himself at the plate. Wolf's older brother, Jim, is a Major League umpire.
Wolf had been hoping to secure a multiyear deal from the Mets, but they signed Oliver Perez earlier this week.
Wolf joins Mark Loretta, Guillermo Mota, Brad Ausmus and Vargas as free agents signed by the Dodgers this winter. Colletti said he'd still like to add a relief pitcher. Former Dodgers hurler Dennys Reyes has been rumored high on the target list.
As for the free agent who they've been unable to sign, Colletti said he has not spoken with agent Scott Boras since Wednesday, when both sides reaffirmed their positions on length of contract, which remains the largest obstacle to a deal.
Colletti said he's "sure we'll speak again." He would not speculate on a date when the Dodgers would move on without Ramirez.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.