San Diego will save, at the very least, $350,000 for the two starts Wolf would have made before the July 31 Trade Deadline and up to $3.5 million on what was left on Wolf's salary for 2008 and what he could possibly earn in incentives.
"Houston was pretty aggressive going after Wolfie. I just felt that right now, this was the best match," said Padres general manager Kevin Towers, who didn't dismiss the financial component of the deal. "We felt this was the right deal to make."
But while monetary concessions likely played a role in this deal, Wolf's primary concern Tuesday was getting his bearings straight after being told he was being traded for the first time in his Major League career.
"I went through this process with an open mind. ... You heard your name pop up in trade rumors. When it ultimately happens, you are shocked a little bit. It's weird," Wolf said as he sat in the visiting dugout at Great American Ball Park.
Nine days before the Trade Deadline, the Padres weighed their options and decided that now was the best time to deal Wolf instead of waiting until closer to the deadline.
They picked up 26-year-old Chad Reineke, who was 5-9 with a 4.41 ERA in 19 starts at Triple-A Round Rock. Reineke, who will report to Triple-A Portland, has a fastball that runs in the low 90s and a "good, hard slider," according to Padres manager Bud Black.
Clay Hensley, who tossed two scoreless innings in relief on Monday, will take Wolf's spot in the rotation on Thursday when San Diego opens a four-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Padres will recall left-handed pitcher Wil Ledezma from Portland on Wednesday to take Wolf's spot on the roster.
"When these things happen, you realize it's something you don't look forward to, on our side," Black said of the trade. "Good guy, you hate to see good guys leave the club. Here again, we knew it was a possibility."
Black said the team hasn't decided what it's going to do when Wolf's starting spot comes back around July 29, though Chris Young, who threw five innings in a rehabilitation assignment Monday, could be a possibility to rejoin the rotation.
As for Wolf, who was 6-10 with a 4.74 ERA in 21 starts for the Padres, the trade was somewhat bittersweet in the sense that he thoroughly enjoyed his time with San Diego after signing a one-year, $4.75 million deal in December.
The incentives in Wolf's deal call for an additional $175,000 for each start beyond 11 to be capped at 30 starts. Wolf could also make an additional $250,000 for reaching 190 innings and $500,000 for reaching 200 innings.
"I developed a lot of good relationships here with the players and staff," Wolf said. "I was treated great. I made a lot of good friends. That's the hard part of having to leave. It's a part of the game that isn't always fun."
Wolf leaves the Padres who, heading into Tuesday's game against Cincinnati, had the lowest winning percentage (.380) in baseball. Wolf was good at spacious PETCO Park (5-4, 3.17 ERA) but struggled on the road (1-6, 6.63).
"In the time I had here, obviously we didn't win a lot of games," Wolf said. "Part of that is definitely my fault. I don't think I was as consistent as I wanted to be."
Wolf, who will be a free agent after the season, had a previous working relationship with Houston general manager Ed Wade, who was the general manager in Philadelphia from 1998-2005 when Wolf pitched for the Phillies.
"He still believes in the Astros," Wolf said of his conversation with Wade on Tuesday. "I think he still thinks there's a shot. With a little more than two months left in the season, there's an opportunity there he's trying to take advantage of. He's not giving up hope. I'm up for the challenge."
Wolf will make his Astros debut on Sunday against Milwaukee.
Wolf said that he would be amenable to re-signing with the Padres next season. But it's not clear what the Padres' interest would be, though San Diego general manager Kevin Towers likes Wolf and likes having a left-hander in his rotation.
Wolf recently purchased a house in the Hollywood Hills area in Los Angeles and has said that, in a perfect world, he would prefer to play on the West Coast.
"I did have a great time here. The whole staff has been great. Of course, if it comes to a point where I'm a free agent, and if the Padres are interested in me, I would be interested in them," Wolf said.
"I'm not leaving here with any sour taste in my mouth. I have a lot of good memories here."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less