Blue Jays & Randy Wolf: Decision Time?
When the Blue Jays inked 38 yr old Randy Wolf to a minor league deal this winter it was not clear exactly how this would go. Would he be able to make a return to a big league rotation? Would he even be effective? Was this just another “catch lightning in a bottle” attempt that would fizzle? Well, some questions have been answered. The wily veteran has done rather well in AAA Buffalo and now faces a decision. He could choose to opt-out of his current deal as of June 1st.
Wolf had been out of work looking for a team, any team to take him on. The Blue Jays took the chance. With very little in the way of expectations and two Tommy John surgeries in tow, Wolf has been impressing in Buffalo. This season, in AAA, Wolf has compiled a 3-1 record with a 1.95 ERA. In 50.2 innings, he’s given up just 11 earned runs to go with 23 walks and 35 strike outs. All tolled, it is a rather pleasant string of performances. Wolf was supposed to start Sunday for the Bisons, but the game was called due to rain. That means his last start is the most fresh in our memories. It wasn’t pretty, giving up 6 ER in 2.2 innings.
Toronto Blue Jays
But, when it comes to the opt-out decision, it doesn’t really matter what his last start yielded. Simply, Wolf can decide to exercise the clause or not. He won’t be judging his last performance. He’ll likely be judging whether he can find a better deal elsewhere; if his first set of starts have opened some some other clubs’ eyes wide enough to see him as a viable option. Now, a few weeks ago, Wolf said that he’s not even been thinking about this decision leading up to today. But, he will have to think about it. There are choices to make.
One option is that Wolf keeps everything the same and continues on his merry way. If he does, he could be looking at a promotion to the big leagues from the Blue Jays and trigger the $800K. Not that his goal would be to chase $800K since he’s made plenty of money throughout his lengthy career. But, he could very well choose to ply his wares in Buffalo and wait for a promotion. And, lets’ be honest, the Blue Jays’ starting rotation has not exactly been stellar. Marco Estrada is the 5th starter right now. Wolf may not be all that far off from making an appearance. Though, he does have Daniel Norris in front of him.
There may be a few other clubs looking to give him a chance now, where none did before. By choosing another option, and opting out of his contract, he could latch on to another team. Perhaps a minor league deal with a team that has a questionable rotation and lacks a young, van-dwelling stud to call up. There could be other teams who have liked what they’ve seen from Wolf when runners are on base. With runners in scoring position, batter are hitting just .128 off him. Perhaps that may be worth a look as a bullpen option. Would Wolf choose a MLB bullpen job over a MiLB starting role?
Another idea may be to negotiate a later opt-out date. Bu holding out a bit longer, he could become an interesting option for teams looking to bolster their clubs for a run. The July 31st Trade Deadline is approaching and teams will be looking for help. If Wolf were to opt out of his contract (assuming his success continues) closer to that date, he might find teams who are willing to bite since he wouldn’t cost any prospects at all. It would be like picking up a pitcher in a trade without having to give up anything. Of course, this would be a gamble on the part of Wolf. Does he feel confident enough in his 2015 performance continuing to go this route? What if he chooses to go this way and then struggles for a few starts or longer? Then, he’s lost all of his leverage. It’s a risk.
But, at this point in Randy Wolf’s career why not take a risk? What has he got to lose? A few months ago, he couldn’t get a single team to agree to watch him throw. The Blue Jays finally took a chance on him. Now, he has the ability to assess the twilight of his career and decide which path he’s going to take. Randy Wolf wants to compete. Very shortly, we’ll see he chooses to do so.