Dodgers sign Wolf to one-year deal

Dodgers sign Wolf to one-year deal

LOS ANGELES -- He's not Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt or even Greg Maddux, but for now, left-hander Randy Wolf is in the Dodgers' tentative starting rotation and they're not.

It's the latest page from general manager Ned Colletti's Plan B blueprint to create a surplus of pitching that ultimately will lead to trading for a power hitter. Plan A was to obtain that power hitter (Aramis Ramirez or Alfonso Soriano) and a frontline starting pitcher (Schmidt or Zito).

The free-agent hitters are already gone. Schmidt and Zito remain possibilities -- particularly Schmidt -- while Maddux, 41 in April, wants a two-year deal and the Dodgers are offering only one.

Wolf and his surgically repaired left elbow agreed to a one-year contract for $7.5 million with a 2008 option for $9 million that vests at 180 innings, can be picked up by the club for $9 million or can be bought out for $500,000.

Wolf is coming off a season in which he made 12 starts with a 4-0 record and 5.56 ERA and averaged fewer than six innings per start for the Phillies, missing the first three months while still healing from July 2005 Tommy John elbow reconstruction.

Wolf also is coming off a four-year, $22.5 million contract signed after his third Major League season. He's represented by Nomar Garciaparra's agent and, like Garciaparra, rejected sweeter offers (from the Phillies, among others) elsewhere to play at home. The fact that Wolf didn't take the highest offer is a strong sign that he believes he's healthy.

"The Phillies were very competitive," said Wolf. "I felt that they were competitive with any offer out there. But it was just a matter of the Dodgers being the right opportunity. To me, it wasn't about trying to get the most money. It was important for me to have the opportunity that I didn't know would ever come up again.

"I could have gone to the highest bidder. But for me, going to the highest bidder wasn't as important as going to the place I was from. I grew up in the L.A. area and have many fond memories of going to Dodger Stadium with friends and family."

Wolf is a graduate of El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills and Pepperdine University, where he schooled after declining to sign with the Dodgers when they took him in the 25th round of the 1994 draft. Philadelphia drafted him in the second round in 1997, and he was in the Major Leagues two years later.

You have to go back to his All-Star season of 2003 to find anything like a full year for Wolf, who went 16-10 with 200 innings. His career record is 69-60 with a 4.21 ERA, similar to Brad Penny's 72-62 mark and 4.33 ERA. Because he's only 30, the Dodgers believe he has substantial upside potential, particularly being left-handed. 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.

"We believe he is a quality left-handed pitcher who went through a couple of rough years with his elbow," said Colletti. "We are thrilled that someone of his character and makeup will be part of this organization."

Colletti's collection of starting pitchers now includes Derek Lowe, Penny, Chad Billingsley, Hong-Chih Kuo, Mark Hendrickson, Eric Stults and Brett Tomko, who spent the second half of 2006 in the bullpen. D.J. Houlton, who spent 2006 at Triple-A, also is a starter on the Major League roster.

In other Dodgers news, the club announced the signing of left-handed journeyman reliever Matt White to a Minor League contract. The Dodgers are White's eighth organization, and he has played seven games in the Major Leagues.

Also, catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Andre Ethier were named to the Topps Rookie All-Star Team.

Assistant trainers Matt Wilson and Jason Mahnke were dismissed by new trainer Stan Conte.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.