The Seattle Mariners released veteran pitcher Randy Wolf on Tuesday. While that alone might not be a particularly newsworthy item, the circumstances under which the team made the move are interesting.
Seattle insisted that Wolf sign a 45-day waiver, the 37-year-old southpaw told Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune, as a condition of breaking camp with the team. Wolf refused to oblige because he felt the deal he signed with the team last month was fair on its own. He explained to Dutton:
"I principally objected to that because we negotiated in good faith in February on a very team-friendly contract."
The team cut Wolf as a result of his refusal to agree to the waiver, which would have allowed the Mariners to release him within 45 days of the start of the regular season without being on the hook for his full salary, according to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. The arrangement is something rarely talked about but fairly common in MLB, according to former MLB pitcher and current Fox Sports analyst C.J. Nitkowski, who also posted a good explanation of the waiver on Twitter.
The Mariners are dealing with injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker that will leave their rotation short-handed to start the season. Wolf, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2012 due to Tommy John surgery but was an above-average pitcher as recently as 2011, might have been a good fit to fill a hole. However, the Mariners sought protection in the event his arm wouldn't hold up, per MLB.com's Greg Johns. Now, the team is left with Blake Beavan and Roenis Elias as likely options for the back of the rotation until the injured hurlers return, adds Johns.
Beavan has been well-below average throughout his career, posting an 82 ERA+ in parts of three seasons. Elias has not pitched above Double-A but owns a 3.61 ERA in more than 300 career minor-league innings. By comparison, Wolf's career ERA is 4.20, putting him right at league average in 14 MLB seasons.
Felix Hernandez, Erasmo Ramirez and James Paxton are currently the only locks in the Mariners' rotation heading into the regular season. As for Wolf? His plans changed quickly and dramatically, as he told Divish on Tuesday:
"The day should have started with a handshake and congratulations instead of a 24-hour feeling of licking a D cell battery."