Another one bites the dust.
An already weak crop of free agent starters just took another hit as left-hander Randy Wolf has reportedly inked a three-year deal deal worth just under $30 million with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The deal, which is contingent upon Wolf passing a physical, reportedly has an option for a fourth year.
Wolf, 33, is coming off a stellar year with Los Angeles in which he went 11-7 with a 3.23 ERA in 34 starts. He hurled 214.1 innings, topping the 200 inning mark for the first time since 2003 when Wolf was with Philadelphia.
Along with staff ace, Yovani Gallardo, Wolf will be expected to help anchor a rotation that was one of the worst in baseball last season.
The Brewers tied the Orioles for the worst starters’ ERA in the Majors at 5.37 and finished next to last in the National League in cumulative team ERA at 4.83.
Wolf also figures to provide the Brewers with a much-needed innings-eater. Although he’s only thrown more than 200 innings in a season four times in his eleven year career, the club is confident that he is the man for the job and can continue to put up numbers similar to the ones he posted last season.
After making the playoffs in 2008, the Brewers lost both Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia to free agency and fell two games below .500 last season. As a result, the club finished eleven games behind the St. Louis Cardinals and missed the playoffs once again.
Wolf will be expected to help right the ship and push the Brewers back into contention in the traditionally tight National League Central.
That is, if Wolf can stay healthy, something that hasn’t always been easy for the southpaw.
Wolf’s aforementioned 2003 campaign with Philadelphia earned him an All-Star nod and, at 26, he figured to be a pitcher on the rise.
Unfortunately, Wolf was hampered by lingering arm troubles after the 2003 season. In 2005, Wolf’s injuries required Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss parts of the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
The Phillies let him enter free agency following the 2006 season and he signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers.
Wolf started the season well, but landed on the 15-day disabled list in July with shoulder soreness. It was believed that he would recover quickly, but the condition worsened and he underwent shoulder surgery and missed the remainder of the year.
In 2008, Wolf signed yet another one-year deal, this time with the Padres, and he finally managed to stay healthy.
In a season that was split between San Diego and Houston, Wolf went 12-12 with a 4.30 ERA in 33 starts while notching 190.1 innings pitched.
Wolf’s return to health was enough to convince the Dodgers to give him a second chance in 2009 and he made the most of it by anchoring a rotation full of inexperienced youngsters and veteran journeymen.
The Dodgers ran away with the National League West and Wolf’s contributions played a major part.
As such, he had seemingly re-captured the spark he’d shown back in 2003 and put himself in a situation to earn a big multi-year payday, as opposed to another one-year deal.
As a Type A free agent, it was believed that he might once again struggle to find a team willing to offer him a multi-year deal as the signing club would be forced to surrender draft pick compensation to Los Angeles.
There was even talk that Wolf might be better served to accept arbitration and return on yet another one-year deal.
The perennially short-sighted Dodgers, however, were worried Wolf would accept and didn’t want to pay him the $8-10 million it was believed he could earn via arbitration.
As such, the club foolishly chose not to offer him arbitration and he immediately became one of the most desirable free agents on the market.
As a Type A free agent, the Dodgers would have received Milwaukee’s first-round draft pick and a sandwich pick in next year’s amateur draft.
Instead, the Dodgers receive nothing, the Brewers receive a second ace, and Wolf receives nearly $30 million and, something he’s coveted for years, job security.