Things got a little odd today in Peoria.
After it seemed as Randy Wolf made the opening day starting rotation – which he apparently did, we learned that Wolf asked to be released from his contract and the Mariners granted his release.
So what happened?’
Well, the Mariners told Wolf on Tuesday that he had made the team and would be in the starting rotation. But in the midst of that, they slipped in that they wanted him to sign 45-day advanced-consent relief form.
And Randy Wolf said, “No.”
“I was principally objected to that simply because we negotiated in good faith in February on a team friendly contract, if I were to make the team,” Wolf said. ““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 team. But to me, that advanced consent thing is kind of renegotiating a contract so I told them I wouldn’t sign in and I disagreed with it.”
So what exactly is this form?
Well basically if a player signs it, the team – the Mariners in this situation – would have 45 days where it could release the player without having to pay the full season’s salary – $1 million in this situation. They would only pay for the service time accrued. Now if Wolf were to get hurt or stay on the 25-man roster, the team would have to pay the full salary of $1 million.
“All we did was ask Randy to sign the 45-day clause, which is very common and not unusual,” Zduriencik 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.”
Wolf is very smart. He knows that Taijuan Walker is moving closer and closer to returning and Hisashi Iwakuma will be back soon too. So he could see a scenario where he make three or four starts and then is released once Walker is ready to join the rotation before the 45-day threshold is met, leaving him without the contract he’d agreed upon.
“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.”
To be clear, the 45-day clause, which was put in place in the collective bargaining agreement, is something that can only be exercised once a player has been told he’s made the team. This isn’t something that can be stipulated in the original contract negotiations.
So over the past 24 hours, the team and Wolf’s agent negotiated a way to make this work. But the Mariners weren’t going to give up on the clause and Wolf was not going to sign it.
“The day should have started with a handshake and congratulations instead of a 24-hour feeling of licking a D cell battery,” Wolf said.
Let’s not romanticize what Wolf is or isn’t as pitcher. The distance between he and Blake Beavan, who will now likely take that next spot, isn’t as vast as you may consider.
But still, right now, if a pitcher were to get hurt, Hector Noesi would be next in line for the rotation. And there is a chance he could be there to start the season. It wasn’t odd that he pitched three innings today, but it certainly became more important for the Mariners.
Taijuan Walker is the closest of the three injured starters to returning. Will it be less than 45 days before he returns?