The Mariners were ready to begin the regular season with left-handed pitcher Randy Wolf in the back end of the rotation. A non-roster invitee coming off Tommy John surgery, Wolf, 37, strung together five decent spring training starts (0-0, 4.26 ERA, 1.32 WHIP in 19 innings), resuscitating his career after missing all of 2013.
When Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Wolf he made the team Tuesday, it came with a stipulation: Wolf had to sign a 45-day advanced-consent relief form.
Wolf refused to sign the form. He asked for his release and the Mariners granted it.
An advanced-consent relief form isn’t typically discussed publicly but is sometimes part of MLB contracts for league veterans, according to ESPN.com’s Keith Law.
Sounds like Seattle asked Wolf to sign a consent to accept outright assignment form. Multiple execs tell me it’s common for vets w/5+ years.
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) March 25, 2014
For the Mariners, a signed form meant they wouldn’t be required to pay Wolf a full season’s salary if they cut him before the 45 days expired. They would be responsible only for the pro-rated portion of the season. Wolf, a 14-year veteran bidding to join his seventh MLB team, signed with the Mariners for $1 million.
A team can’t introduce the form during contract negotiations, according to the most recent collective bargaining agreement. It can be presented only after a player makes the big-league roster.
So why did Wolf walk?
“I was principally objected to that, simply because we negotiated in good faith in February on a team-friendly contract,” Wolf told Divish. “I felt like I came in amazing shape, I pitched great and I earned a spot on the team. They told me I earned the spot on the team. But to me, the advanced-consent thing is kind of renegotiating a contract, so I told them I wouldn’t sign (it), and I disagreed with it.”
The Mariners expect No. 2 pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (strained finger tendon) and No. 3 pitcher Taijuan Walker (shoulder inflammation) to return from injuries by the end of April. At that point, Wolf understands the Mariners could release him without having to pay the full $1 million.
“It’s a rule that gives a lot of power back to the team,” Wolf said. “It’s really if they want to send you down, or release you. I felt with what I signed for, that it was just above the major league minimum, that I was uncomfortable that it seemed like such a financial risk, considering I came in and earned a spot.”
Zduriencik admitted as much but said the Mariners weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary.
“All we did was ask Randy to sign the 45-day clause, which is very common and not unusual,” he said. “It gives us a degree of protection. We didn’t have any fear of anything happening to Randy, but he hasn’t been on a mound in a regular season baseball game in a year-and-a-half.”
It’s unclear whether the Mariners violated a good-faith agreement with Wolf.
More clear is that left-hander Roenis Elias and right-hander Blake Beavan will begin the regular season in the No. 4-5 spots in the rotation.
The Mariners released pitcher Scott Baker Monday and plan to have Elias, a Southern League All-Star last season in Double-A, make another start before they begin the regular season Monday against the Angels.
Beavan slides into the No. 5 spot, but he’s been terrible in his last two starts and has given up 17 earned runs, six via home runs, in 23.2 Cactus League innings.