The deal is finally official. The Brewers have just signed Randy Wolf to a three year deal worth $29.75 with a club option for a fourth season.
Wolf, 33, substantially increased his payday by posting a stellar 2009 where he went 11-7 with a 3.23 ERA. Those number do need to be taken with a grain of salt considering he pitched in the NL West, home to the worst offenses in baseball. In 2009, Wolf struck out 160 batters while walking just 58 for a K:BB ratio just under 3:1. He doesn't really have overpowering stuff, but locates the ball really well and has four pitches.
Wolf brings stability to a rotation that ranked near the bottom in just about every pitching category last season. If he is able to maintain the form of his 2009 season, this is a great addition. I would say the contract Wolf received was generous, but not too bad considering the missteps that could've been taken. There was talk the Brewers were exploring similar contracts with Doug Davis and Jarrod Washburn.
One of the main reasons I like this trade is the consistent numbers Wolf continues to post. Throughout his career, Wolf has consistently posted around 7 K/9, while usually allowing less than 3BB/9. In today's game, consistent quality numbers like that are hard to find.
There are people who are, just based on age and money, going to compare this signing to Jeff Suppan, that's just wrong. At the time of the signings, Suppan was, and still isn't anywhere near as good a pitcher as Wolf. Wolf is averaging more than 2.5K/9 more than Suppan, while walking the same amount of batters. He has better stuff than Suppan and is a very solid option at the top of the rotation. Also, he is getting less money and fewer years.
I think the funniest thing in this entire deal was the Dodgers not offering arbitration to Randy Wolf. Wolf was a Type A free agent and would've got the Dodgers two top draft picks in next years draft. Sure Wolf would've probably received less money, but the Brewers are now able to save their second round pick.
While the deal looks good now, fans have to realize Wolf is nearing his mid-30's. His numbers are likely to regress while in Milwaukee. I don't expect his 3.23 ERA to translate into the same season in 2010, but his number suggest he could easily post a sub-4 ERA. Bill James currently projects him at a 3.87, while other projections seeing him around a 4.2 next season. I think the likely outcome is right in the middle. Is a 4.00 ERA worth $10 a season? That's up for debate, but there is no question the Brewers needed a pitcher like Wolf in their rotation. This team lacks pitching depth at the top of their farm system and couldn't afford trading major league talent for an arm. Sure other short term deals would've been a better option, but Doug Melvin did a good job getting Wolf.