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BASEBALL

Pitcher Randy Wolf is a Dodger again

The veteran left-hander returns to the team with a one-year contract.

February 07, 2009|Bill Shaikin

Chad Billingsley has started 76 games in the major leagues. Hiroki Kuroda has started 31, Clayton Kershaw 21.

Randy Wolf has started 241.

And so the Dodgers signed Wolf to a one-year contract Friday, plugging a hole reserved for a veteran starter at the back end of the rotation.

The contract guarantees the left-hander $5 million and affords him the chance to earn up to $3 million in incentives, starting at 170 innings pitched. If he pitches 200 innings -- a feat he last accomplished in 2003 -- he would receive the maximum of $8 million.

Wolf also will give the Dodgers a list of 10 teams to which he can be traded.

The deal sets the starting rotation for spring training, leaving Jason Schmidt, Claudio Vargas, Shawn Estes, Eric Stults and Ramon Troncoso to compete for only one vacancy.

"I definitely feel a lot better," said coach Larry Bowa, who managed Wolf with the Philadelphia Phillies. "He stabilizes our rotation. If one of our young kids has two or three starts where they run into a jam, Randy can relate. A lot of times, it's better for players to hear it from one of their own."

Wolf, 32, who pitched at Pepperdine and Woodland Hills El Camino Real High, went 9-6 with a 4.73 earned-run average for the Dodgers in 2007, limited to 18 starts because of shoulder surgery. He went 12-12 with a 4.30 ERA for the San Diego Padres and Houston Astros last season, and his 190 innings were his most since 2003. The Astros offered him three years and $28.5 million, then withdrew the offer, citing the worsening economy.

Wolf becomes the Dodgers' sixth free-agent signing this winter, following Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, Mark Loretta, Guillermo Mota and Brad Ausmus. General Manager Ned Colletti says those signings indicate the Dodgers have not been paralyzed by the protracted discussions with Manny Ramirez.

"We haven't been sitting around waiting for one player to sign," Colletti said.

Colletti said he had not spoken with Scott Boras, the agent for Ramirez, in the last 48 hours but said he expected discussions to resume next week. He would not say whether the Dodgers would continue talks beyond Feb. 18, when position players report to spring training.

The San Francisco Giants remain interested in Ramirez but apparently not in topping the Dodgers' offers -- one year at $25 million, two years at $45 million. The San Jose Mercury News asked Peter Magowan, who just retired as the Giants' managing partner, where he expected Ramirez to go.

"Back to the Dodgers," Magowan said.

In addition to Ramirez, Colletti said he would like to sign one more reliever but called the return of Nomar Garciaparra "a longshot."

Boras has encouraged the Dodgers to consider Jeff Weaver for the last spot in the rotation; Colletti declined to say whether the club had any interest. Weaver, 32, went 14-11 with a 4.22 ERA for the Dodgers in 2005 but went 15-27 with a 5.96 ERA for the Angels, St. Louis Cardinals and Seattle Mariners in 2006-07. He was in the minor leagues last season.

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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