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Dodgers get a cut-rate deal on pitcher Wolf

Times Staff Writer

Southland product Randy Wolf, a left-handed starting pitcher who had major elbow surgery 17 months ago, has agreed to sign with the Dodgers for less money and security than other teams offered because he wants to return to L.A., baseball sources said Monday.

Wolf, who played at Pepperdine and Woodland Hills El Camino Real High, accepted a one-year deal for $7.5 million with a vesting option for another year based on 180 innings pitched. There is also a club option in the event Wolf doesn’t pitch enough innings to trigger the vesting option.

General Manager Ned Colletti wanted to finish negotiations with Wolf before a large contingent of Dodgers front office officials departs Thursday for the Dominican Republic. Wolf and new center fielder Juan Pierre are scheduled to be introduced at a news conference Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.

Colletti met with Wolf about a week ago and was impressed by his desire to play for the Dodgers. Wolf also talked to Nomar Garciaparra, who grew up in Southern California and recently signed a two-year contract to remain with the Dodgers. Both players are represented by agent Arn Tellem.

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Wolf, 30, was 69-60 with a 4.21 earned-run average in eight seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, who made him a second-round draft pick in 1997. He was 4-0 with a 5.56 ERA in 56 2/3 innings last season after coming off the disabled list July 31, helping the Phillies contend for the National League wild-card berth.

He had ligament replacement surgery on July 1, 2005, and took a year to recover. Scouting reports indicate Wolf regained his velocity and the snap on his curveball during his 12 starts in August and September this year. He lacked command, but scouts attributed that to his long layoff.

Wolf was one of the National League’s top left-handers from 2000 to 2003, posting 48 victories and logging at least 200 innings three times. He began to experience elbow pain in 2004 and pitched 136 2/3 innings. He made 13 starts in 2005 before having surgery.

A source close to the negotiations said the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals made offers to sign Wolf for three years, with the deals ranging from $21 million to $24 million. The Arizona Diamondbacks had a similar offer on the table before they acquired left-hander Doug Davis from the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Phillies chased Wolf until signing Adam Eaton to a three-year deal Monday.

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But Wolf took a shorter deal to join the Dodgers, the team he rooted for while growing up in Canoga Park and playing in West Hills Pony League. He is coming off a four-year, $22-million deal that was heavily back-loaded -- he made $9 million in 2006.

Wolf was an All-American at Pepperdine, where he also batted cleanup as a designated hitter when he wasn’t pitching. His best offensive season with the Phillies was in 2004; he hit .267 with three home runs.

The Dodgers drafted Wolf out of El Camino Real in 1994 but he chose to attend Pepperdine. He pitched at Dodger Stadium in the 1993 and 1994 City Section championship games, joining Bret Saberhagen as the only pitchers to win a City title and a major league game at Dodger Stadium.

Wolf joins right-handers Derek Lowe, Brad Penny and Chad Billingsley in the Dodgers rotation, leaving Hong-Chi Kuo, Mark Hendrickson and Brett Tomko to battle for the fifth spot. However, the Dodgers are expected to pursue another veteran starter during the upcoming winter meetings, with Greg Maddux and Jason Schmidt at the top of the list.

The Dodgers also are pursuing a power hitter, most likely through a trade. They have had discussions with the Boston Red Sox regarding left fielder Manny Ramirez, but the asking price has been too high. According to a source, the Red Sox want three players, including budding slugger Matt Kemp, the top outfield prospect in the organization.

steve.henson@latimes.com


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