PHILADELPHIA -- In the end, it might have come down to just wanting to go home for Randy Wolf.
Multiple published reports, citing unidentified sources, said late Sunday night that the free-agent left-handed starter is expected to join the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Wolf is believed to be accepting a one-year deal with a club option for 2008, according to foxsports.com. Los Angeles is said to be safeguarding against the possible departure of Greg Maddux. The Phillies were believed to be offering more to retain him, but the lure of pitching for his hometown team proved too difficult to resist. Wolf is from Canoga Park, Calif., and attended Pepperdine University. He still lives in the Los Angeles area.
He went 69-60 with a 4.21 ERA in his Phillies career, which began in 1999.
The Phillies had hoped the 30-year-old would round out their rotation after he spent most of the past season rehabbing from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. The southpaw went 4-0 with a 5.56 ERA in 12 starts in 2006.
Pitchers have historically been stronger in the second season back from the type of surgery Wolf had, and that fact created optimism from multiple suitors, including the Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and Cardinals.
With Wolf gone, the Phillies have lost yet another of their free-agent possibilities. They had targeted Alfonso Soriano, who signed with the Cubs, as well as Gary Sheffield, who was dealt by the Yankees before the Phillies had a chance to acquire him. The two top pitching prizes on the free-agent market, Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt, are reportedly not interested in signing with Philadelphia. Right-hander Miguel Batista, who can start and relieve, is believed to be near the top of the team's wish list.
General manager Pat Gillick is on record as saying that he expects the fifth starter to come from outside the organization, which suggests that prospect Gavin Floyd will begin the season in Triple-A Ottawa. Lefty Gio Gonzalez and Fabio Castro are darkhorse candidates.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.