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Angels to release Korea-bound Volstad

The Angels plan to release right-hander Chris Volstad from his Minor League contract so he can pursue an opportunity to pitch in Korea.

Volstad, 27, joined the Angels on Nov. 6 and was slated to go to big league Spring Training, where he would compete for a long-relief role or settle into the Angels' Triple-A rotation. But Volstad will instead sign with the Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization.

Volstad's Minor League deal included a clause allowing him to sign with a team in the Far East. Last offseason, the Angels lost veteran Jo-Jo Reyes to the SK Wyverns of the Korean League in a similar fashion.

One potential replacement for Volstad on the Angels' depth chart could be the 36-year-old, previously retired Mark Mulder.

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reported via Twitter on Friday night that the Angels are "emerging as [a] front-runner" to acquire the veteran left-hander, adding that "an incentive-laden deal could be consummated soon."

Mulder, 36, has been retired for four years, hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2008 and currently works as an ESPN analyst. But the Angels were among the teams who saw him throw in Arizona just before the Winter Meetings, and a source confirmed that they have interest in acquiring the former A's and Cardinals stalwart.

A separate source told that Mulder, who is set on coming back to pitch, is weighing offers from seven teams, including the Angels. Earlier reports said Mulder was seeking a Major League contract, but it remains to be seen if he actually gets that.

Volstad was the 16th-overall pick by the Marlins in 2005 and had a solid rookie season in '08, posting a 2.88 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) -- but he hasn't been able to duplicate that.

Over the next four big league seasons, the last of which was spent with the Cubs in 2012, Volstad compiled a 5.14 ERA and averaged 153 innings per season. Last year, he spent the vast majority of the season -- minus six relief appearances -- pitching for the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, posting a 4.58 ERA, a 1.57 WHIP and a 1.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 127 2/3 innings.

The Angels' priority for the Major League rotation remains Matt Garza or Masahiro Tanaka.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Mark Mulder, Chris Volstad