This is getting comical. Randy Wolf is out according to multiple sources, and barring a late addition, Roenis Elias will make the jump from AA to the majors and Blake Beavan, in spite of his performance yesterday, is in.
The stipulations of Wolf's release are complicated. Via Bob Dutton, Wolf was told he made the team, but that the team wanted to sign him to a 45-day advance release. According to Wolf, this meant the Mariners could have done anything they wanted with him for 45 days, and he felt that wasn't the same deal he agreed to back in February. He presumably asked to be released, and the Mariners granted it.
From Eric, here's the rules on the 45-day clause.
A player who has accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time cannot be optioned to the minors without his consent. The player can waive this right, but the waiver cannot be signed more than ten days prior to MLB Opening Day, the player has the right to designate in advance which minor league team to which he can be assigned, and the waiver automatically expires if the player is not optioned to the minors within 45 days or by the 45th day of the MLB regular season (whichever is later).
Divish simplifies things. It's understandable why he wanted out.
Had Wolf signed the clause, & Iwakuma came back before 45 days, M's could have cut Wolf and not paid his full $1 mil salary for the season.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 25, 2014
It was never a good idea to have Randy Wolf in the opening day rotation, so this isn't bad news per se, but it does stretch the Mariners even thinner, and I've already thoroughly skewered them for that. This shouldn't have happened. They are one injury away from being completely out of viable options when it comes to the rotation (in a lot of ways, they already are), and if Beavan or Elias stinks, there isn't much they can do until Iwakuma or Walker get back. Maybe the team is optimistic about the aforementioned timetables, but it's still stomach-churning.
This raises the chances that the Mariners will claim somebody off waivers before the season begins, as somebody out there is likely to be an upgrade over Blake Beavan, who they need more as insurance than as a starter. The list of available names will become clearer as the week goes on, but Chris Young of the Nationals is an interesting target. Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post has already made the connection. The Mariners are in a tricky situation where they won't want to give up much for a few starts. They might opt to ride with what they've got, so keep the slop bucket handy. Then again, this is the same team that bumped somebody off the 40-man roster for a handful of starts from Jeremy Bonderman.
It's the very best news for Roenis Elias, who Colin profiled in great detail last week. Shannon Drayer also wrote about Elias' amazing journey from Cuba this morning. It's going to be a fairly significant challenge for Elias, as many before him have tried to make the leap from AA to MLB and have been flustered by the discipline and patience of hitters that just don't exist in AA. The Southern League is full of toolsy hackers who are easily exploitable by pitchers with plus stuff, but this is a different game -- these guys have seen it all and pitchers can't retire batters the same way they could before.
This is a mess that could turn into a minor disaster if Iwakuma and Walker can't return by mid to late April. If they can and the Mariners manage to stay healthy the rest of the way, they'll be alright. But this entire situation is a tough reminder that things never go quite as planned, and the Mariners were/are ill-prepared for it.