The left-hander passed a physical on Monday and finalized a three-year contract with the Brewers that includes a club option for 2013. It guarantees $29.75 million, making Wolf the third-richest pitcher in franchise history.
Wolf was all smiles in his new Brewers jersey and cap, but conceded last week that he was “disappointed” his hometown Dodgers didn’t make more of an effort to bring him back after he went 11-7 in 2009 with a 3.23 ERA in a career-high 34 starts. The Dodgers declined to offer him arbitration, then decided against making an offer once Wolf hit the open market.
That left an opening for the Brewers.
“To tell you the truth, going into this offseason I wanted to be on a team that wanted to win and I wanted to be on a team that was dedicated to me and having that feeling be mutual,” Wolf said. “I went into this offseason with a very open mind. I wasn’t set on going back to L.A.
“When the Brewers came out very early and showed me that I was a priority this offseason, I looked at them a lot closer and realized this would be a great fit for me.”
Part of the Brewers’ pursuit was a West Coast trip by Brewers GM Doug Melvin, who, along with principal owner Mark Attanasio, met with Wolf in L.A. Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman joined the sales pitch in a 45-minute conversation with Wolf about playing in Milwaukee.
“From Day 1 they made it very clear that I was a priority this winter,” Wolf said. “Not only was I the priority, but winning was the priority … and that’s very important to me. When you become a free agent, you want a team that desires you and thinks that you can help their team win. The thing I see from this organization is they’re making a huge effort to win.”
Wolf’s financial package was evidence of that effort. His deal is the third-richest for a pitcher in Brewers history and, according to the Associated Press, includes base salaries of $9.25 million in 2010, $9.5 million in 2011 and $9.5 million in 2012. The club option for 2013 would pay $10 million with a $1.5 million buyout.
He can earn an additional $250,000 per year in incentives: $125,000 for 190 innings and $125,000 for 200 innings. Wolf gets a limited no-trade clause and additional payment of $250,000 if he’s dealt.
“We felt he fit for what we needed here,” Melvin said. “In the past, you’re always looking for somebody to give you innings, but what you need is someone who’s going to give you quality innings. Randy fit a lot of our criteria.”
“I really strongly believe that he’s turned a corner to his career,” Melvin said. “I think he can really take off in these next few years. He is one of the better pitchers in the game today and he can continue that as a Milwaukee Brewer.”
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter.
The Associated Press reported the details of Randy Wolf’s three-year, $29.75 million contract and Craig Counsell’s one-year, $2.1 million contract:
Randy Wolf gets $9.25 million next year and $9.5 million in each of the following two seasons. The deal includes a $10 million club option for 2013 with a $1.5 million buyout.Wolf can make an additional $250,000 a year in performance bonuses: $125,000 each for 190 and 200 innings. He has a limited no-trade clause and would get $250,000 if he’s dealt. …Counsell can earn $500,000 in performance bonuses: $50,000 each for 50, 75, 90 and 110 games, and $100,000 each for 125 games and 75 and 100 starts.
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Saturday that he’d reached a tentative agreement with infielder Craig Counsell on a 2010 return. Melvin told the newspaper that the contract will be finalized on Monday.
Seth McClung said in an e-mail Monday night that Brewers officials had informed him he won’t be tendered a contract by Saturday’s 10:59 p.m. CT deadline. He was one of eight potentially arbitration-eligible players awaiting word from the team.
Thank you Milwaukee brewers fans. You guys were outstanding. Thank you Doug Melvin and Gord Ash for bringing me over and giving me a chance.
Thank you Mike Maddux, Bill Castro, Ned Yost and Dale Sevum for giving me the ball and helping me grow as a player. Eddie, Stan, Bossie, you all were great too. Thank you to my Brewers teammates, you guys were awesome to play with and travel with. I have made some lasting friendships with many of you and you mean the world to me. Thanks to a wonderful training staff and clubhouse staff. I would also like to thank our owner Mark Attanasio, you and your club are first class all the way. Thank you again for being good not only to me but my family as well.I will always have great memories of my time in Milwaukee. It was not my choice to leave. I hope you saw how much I cared through my on field performance. I want you all to know I played hard and always wanted to win. I was honnered to be a big part of the 08 team that made the playoffs. I had a great year, starting in the middle of the season and then pitching out of the pen. My favorite memory to date is finishing the game late September vs the Cubs. Again thank you Milwaukee I was honored to be a Brewer.
Saturday is the deadline to tender contracts to unsigned players, and for more on the Brewers’ decisions, see my story at Brewers.com.
Thanks to Brewers media relations man Ken Spindler, who rounded up some information on players participating in winter leagues. Here is his story:
MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers have been well represented in the various Winter League programs, which include the Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan Winter Leagues. Along with the Arizona Fall League, which concluded with the Peoria Javelinas winning the AFL Championship, the Brewers have had a total of 26 players participate in Winter League play this offseason.
The Brewers are represented by seven positional players in the Venezuelan Winter League. Shortstop Alcides Escobar is batting .403 with two home runs, 19 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 33 games for Lara, and teammate Hernan Iribarren is also faring well, batting .313 with three triples, two home runs, 20 RBI and nine stolen bases in 44 games. Third baseman Mat Gamel has appeared in six games for Caracas (.200, 1hr, 2rbi), while fellow infielder Adam Heether appeared in 21 games with Caracas prior to being sidelined with an intercostal strain. Outfielder Brendan Katin appeared in 22 games (.246, 1hr, 7rbi) for Zulia. Catcher Anderson De La Rosa (Lara) and outfielder Juan Sanchez (Aragua) also saw limited action.
The Dominican Winter League has featured five players from the organization competing in the three-month long winter season, including recent acquisitions outfielder Carlos Gomez and left-handed pitcher John Halama. Gomez is playing for Escogido and has batted .328 with one home run and 12 RBI through 18 games. Halama, meanwhile, was 4-3 with a 2.45 ERA in nine starts for Aguilas.
Shortstop Erick Almonte, who spent the 2009 regular season as a corner infielder at Triple-A Nashville, is among the Dominican League batting leaders with a .331 batting average along with four home runs and 23 RBI in 42 games for Gigantes. Right-hander Juan Sandoval (Estrellas) has gone 0-1 with a 3.95 ERA in 17 relief appearances and left-hander Rafael Lluberes has pitched sparingly for Gigantes.
In the Puerto Rican Winter League, right-handed pitcher Hiram Burgos – a sixth round selection by the Brewers in this year’s First-Year Player Draft – began Monday’s game by pitching 5.1 hitless innings for Mayaguez before allowing a single run on one hit. He is currently 2-0 with a 3.04 ERA in five starts overall in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Left-hander Efrain Nieves (0-0, 4.76) has made three appearances (1 start) with Arecibo and catcher Martin Maldonado has played in 11 games for Mayaguez.
The Mexican Winter League has included a pair of Brewers newcomers, including outfielder Trent Oeltjen, who has hit .348 with five RBI in 23 games with Hermosillo, and infielder Luis Cruz (.318, 1hr, 14rbi) with Culiacan. Right-handed pitcher David Welch has gone 1-3 with a 4.75 ERA in seven starts for Guasave.
The Brewers had eight members on the Peoria Javelinas squad in the Arizona Fall League, which won the six-team league title with a 5-4 win over the Phoenix Desert Dogs on November 21. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy played consistently over 17 games, batting .310 with two home runs and 10 RBI. He was joined by infielder Taylor Green and outfielder Lorenzo Cain, who both participated in the league for the second consecutive year.
On the pitching side, right-handed pitcher Omar Aguilar made his second straight appearance in the Arizona Fall League. He was joined by right-hander Rob Wooten, who had six scoreless outings in eight appearances, and left-handed pitcher Zach Braddock, who allowed just one run over 11.2 innings with three saves prior to his final outing. Right-handers Josh Butler and Mark Rogers also participated in the AFL after contributing with solid seasons during the regular season.
In addition, Brevard County pitching coach Fred Dabney served as a coach for Peoria.
Nice job by Ken of avoiding the AFL stats, because they were not all pretty. If you want to see how those players fared, you can see Peoria’s roster and final statistics here.
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter.
After committing more than $37 million on free agents Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins at the Winter Meetings, the Brewers could cap the week with some cost savings.
Club officials have until 10:59 p.m. CT to tender contracts to unsigned players for 2010 or let them join the pool of free agents. Of particular interest are the seven players who would be arbitration-eligible if they are offered a contract, and thus likely to see their salaries jump.
That list is made up of starter Dave Bush ($4 million salary last season), relievers Todd Coffey ($800,002), Seth McClung ($1.6625 million) and Carlos Villanueva ($447,000), outfielders Jody Gerut ($1.775 million), Carlos Gomez ($437,500) and Corey Hart ($3.25 million) and catcher Mike Rivera ($415,000).
Of that group, Coffey, Villanueva, Gomez and Hart are all but guaranteed tenders and Bush and Gerut fall into the “likely” category. Brewers officials were meeting Friday to discuss the entire group.
McClung in particular is waiting to learn his fate. The right-hander posted a 4.94 ERA in 41 games, including two starts, and missed nearly two months with a sprained right elbow. He returned for three appearances before the end of the season, but it was a disappointing follow-up to McClung’s fine 2008 season in which he made 25 relief appearances and 12 starts and was so valuable late in the year during the Brewers’ postseason push.
The numbers game works against McClung in Milwaukee’s bullpen. Trevor Hoffman is back as the closer, and Coffey and Hawkins (assuming he passes his physical next week) are ticketed for set-up roles. The Brewers are close to re-signing Claudio Vargas, who was solid in the second half of 2009 and, like McClung, has history as a starter. So does Villanueva, who figures to be a lower-cost option than McClung. The Brewers also have left-hander Mitch Stetter back and will take a look in Spring Training at Rule 5 pick Chuck Lofgren, another lefty.
Rivera ($415,000 salary last season) is also part of a crowded field. The team last week signed veteran catcher Gregg Zaun and assured him he’ll be the regular starter behind the plate, and also added George Kottaras via the waiver wire on Nov. 18. Catching prospects Angel Salome and Jonathan Lucroy will be in camp with a chance to win a job, and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has mentioned LuCroy as a candidate to make the roster.
In 41 games as Jason Kendall’s backup last season, Rivera batted .228 with two home runs and 14 RBIs. He’s been the Brewers’ backup catcher in each of the past four seasons.
Teams rarely nontender so-called “zero-to-three” players who don’t have enough service time to qualify for arbitration, but they are likely to cut loose reliever Mark DiFelice on Saturday to free his 40-man roster spot. DiFelice underwent shoulder surgery last week and expects to be sidelined for the 2010 season. The Brewers could re-sign him to a Minor League contract.
The Brewers currently have 39 players on the 40-man roster so they need DiFelice’s roster spot for Wolf and Hawkins, who are scheduled for physical exams next week to finalize their contracts.
After all 30 teams make their decisions on Saturday, the Brewers will scour the list for new free agents of interest and will probably be particularly interested in starting pitchers and backup outfielders. One pitcher to keep an eye on is Kevin Correia, who might be non-tendered by the Padres after earning $1.1 million with incentives in 2009.
The Brewers showed interest in Correia last winter before he signed a Minor League deal with the Padres and tried to acquire him again in July. The key would be Correia’s asking price after his solid year.
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter.