Luis Ayala Rumors

Minor Moves: Clark, Ayala, Robinson, Sanchez, Janish

Here are today’s minor league transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Brewers have signed first baseman Matt Clark to a minor league deal, the club’s player development department announced on Twitter. Clark had been hitting .297/.380/.498 at Double-A for the Mets before he was released recently. He will take the roster spot of Hunter Morris, the club’s tenth overall prospect coming into the year (per Baseball America), who was DL’ed after breaking his arm.
  • Veteran righty Luis Ayala has been released by the Blue Jays, according to the International League transactions page. The reliever had been working at Triple-A. As MLBTR’s Zach Links reported at the time of the signing, Ayala did not have the right to opt out of his deal. Though he worked to a 2.90 ERA with 5.8 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 over 31 innings last year for the Braves, Ayala has not had an opportunity to throw in the bigs yet this season. Through 17 innings at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, he owns a 5.29 ERA (7.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9)
  • The Braves officially acquired minor league right-hander Andrew Robinson from the Astros in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later, as per a Houston media release.  Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reported yesterday that the trade was imminent.
  • The Cubs released left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports (Twitter link).  The Cubs signed Sanchez to a minor league deal in December but the southpaw has been injured for most of the season and only pitched 2/3 of an inning for Triple-A Iowa.  After being traded from the Giants following the 2011 season, Sanchez’s numbers ballooned to the tune of an 8.73 ERA over 78 1/3 IP with the Royals, Rockies and Pirates in 2012-13.
  • The Royals have signed infielder Paul Janish to a minor league deal, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link).  Janish opted out of his previous minors deal with the Rockies on Tuesday.  Janish provided some good defense but only a .572 OPS in 1206 PA with the Reds and Braves from 2008-13, and he spent all of his season with Triple-A Colorado Springs.
  • The Blue Jays have released outfielder Brett Carroll, as announced via Twitter by the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.  Carroll posted only a .438 OPS in 63 Triple-A plate appearances after signing a minor league contract with the Jays in February.  Carroll appeared in 173 games with the Marlins from 2007-10 and had cups of coffee with the Brewers and Nationals in 2011-12 before spending 2013 with the Pirates’ Triple-A franchise.

Blue Jays To Sign Luis Ayala

8:39am: Zach adds that Ayala’s contract with the Jays does not contain an opt-out clause, as his previous Orioles contract did (Twitter link).

8:26am: The Blue Jays have agreed to a minor league deal with right-hander Luis Ayala, MLBTR’s Zach Links reports (on Twitter).

Ayala, who is represented by Paragon Sports International, signed with the Nationals in Spring Training but was granted his release after it became clear that there wouldn’t be a spot for him in the Washington ‘pen. He then inked a minor league deal with Baltimore and pitched 5 1/3 innings for their Double-A affiliate in Bowie before opting out of that deal as well.

The 36-year-old Ayala has been a solid bullpen piece for the past three seasons after it looked like his career was beginning to fade. He’s pitched for the Yankees, Orioles and Braves from 2011-13, posting a strong 2.58 ERA with 6.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate north of 50 percent. He’s a logical fit with the Blue Jays, who, despite their first-place standing in the AL East, have posted the second-worst bullpen ERA in the Majors at 4.62. Given the carousel of arms they’ve cycled through — Toronto has already used 16 different relievers this season — it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ayala pitch for the big league club at some point this summer.


East Notes: Red Sox, Marlins, De La Rosa, Ayala

The injury bug has struck the Red Sox again. Mike Carp, who replaced the injured Mike Napoli at first base, under went a CT scan today and it revealed a broken foot, tweets Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. The injury will set off a series of roster moves with Stephen Drew ready to join the club in Cleveland tomorrow. MacPherson tweets the Red Sox will place Carp on the disabled list and and recall Daniel Nava. Garin Cecchini, who made his MLB debut today when Dustin Pedroia was ejected and went 1-for-2 with a RBI double, told reporters (including Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com) he will have dinner with his parents and then report to Triple-A Pawtucket. Prior to the announcement of Carp’s injury, the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber outlined how the Red Sox could juggle playing time with the addition of Drew.

Elsewhere in baseball’s East divisions:

  • The Marlins acquired right-handed reliever Bryan Morris from the Pirates earlier in the day and the team is already being criticized for the move. Fangraph’s Dave Cameron opines Morris is a below replacement level pitcher and giving up the 39th pick in the draft for him (an asset worth several million dollars) is “beyond crazy” (Twitter links).
  • Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio agrees with Cameron tweeting Morris is not worth past number 39 picks like Lance Lynn (Cardinals), Anthony Ranaudo (Red Sox), and Joey Gallo (Rangers).
  • Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill defended the trade to reporters, including the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Juan C. Rodriguez. “We had a need,” Hill said. “It was in our bullpen. We were looking for the piece that was the right fit for us in terms of controlling, not just short-term, but long-term, and [Morris] had the stuff to help our club as well.
  • Hill also said the trade “is the first piece” as he attempts to strengthen the second-place Marlins. “I don’t think we’re finished in trying to improve our club. We’re still trying to make as many improvements as we think we can to help this team.
  • Alex Speier of WEEI.com chronicles the development of Red Sox right-hander Rubby De La Rosa from a prospect who had trouble harnessing his potential to the pitcher who tossed seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts Saturday night.
  • Right-hander Luis Ayala, who opted out of his minor league deal with the Orioles yesterday, will pitch in Mexico, tweets MASNsports.com’s Rock Kubatko.


Minor Moves: Ramirez, Ayala, Adams, Simmons

Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball.

  • The Orioles have agreed to terms with pitcher Ramon Ramirez, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski tweets. Ramirez will report to Sarasota before heading to Triple-A Norfolk. Ramirez had previously made four appearances this year for the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma. He played sparingly for the Giants last season and spent most of the year at Triple-A Fresno, where he had a 3.46 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9. In addition to that of the Giants, the righty has also pitched out of the Rockies, Royals, Red Sox and Mets bullpens.
  • Reliever Luis Ayala is opting out of his minor-league deal with the Orioles, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Ayala pitched 5 1/3 innings for Double-A Bowie, striking out five and walking two while allowing three runs. He pitched for the Braves and Orioles in 2013, posting a 2.90 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 31 innings.
  • Outfielder Brian Adams, the Padres‘ eighth-round pick in the 2012 draft, has retired, MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets. In 410 career plate appearances at the Class A level, Adams hit .219/.262/.356. Brock notes that Adams will go back to the University of Kentucky to finish his degree.
  • The Braves have announced that they’ve purchased the contract of pitcher Shae Simmons from Double-A Mississippi and optioned pitcher Ian Thomas to Triple-A Gwinnett. Simmons, 23, shined at Double-A, posting an ERA of 0.78 to go with 11.7 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9.
  • The Marlins have signed 18-year-old Colombian pitcher Cristian Olmos, Joe Frisaro and Maria Torres of MLB.com write. Olmos is 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, and he throws as hard as 94 MPH and has the makings of a good curveball. He will start the season in the Dominican Summer League.

Quick Hits: Wrigley, Blue Jays, Arenado, Iglesias, Opt-Outs

In case you missed it, the Cubs‘ efforts to renovate Wrigley Field have run into some snags that have stirred up controversy in Chicago. That project has frequently been cited by the team as a key factor in future payroll expansion. Club executive Crane Kenney discussed the latest in an interview with David Kaplan on The Game 87.7 FM (audio link). Kaplan also released a copy of the agreement with the neighboring rooftop owners that is at the center of the dispute (on CSNChicago.com). Today, first baseman Anthony Rizzo expressed frustration over the delays, saying that players had been told to expect significant clubhouse renovations, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Here’s the latest from around the league to finish up the night …

  • With the Blue Jays seemingly more interested in adding a short-term rental arm than a player who comes with more control (and a higher price), Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says that James Shields of the Royals could be a possible target for Toronto. Heyman says that the Jays hope to avoid “gutting” the team’s prospect pool in adding a pitcher, and like that Shields has proven himself in the AL East. Of course, unless Kansas City is well out of the race by the time the trade deadline comes around, Shields may not even be available. And even if he is shopped, he would draw lots of interest from other contenders and should command a substantial prospect haul himself. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said earlier today that he is confident the club can take on salary to add an impact pitcher; in discussing that news, MLBTR’s Steve Adams listed several possible free agents-to-be that could become available and attractive to the Jays.
  • Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado will not require surgery on his broken left middle finger, reports Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. That is good news for a suddenly-reeling Colorado club, though Arenado still figures to miss at least six more weeks. It will be interesting to see whether an anticipated mid-to-late July return for Arenado could help encourage the Rockies to buy at the trade deadline, if they can stay afloat in the meantime.
  • The Reds were among the many clubs on hand to watch Cuban righty Raciel Iglesias throw today in Haiti, tweets C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Cinci pen has struggled to the league’s third-worst ERA through the first third of the season. Iglesias is said to have the potential to be a legitimate big league relief contributor right away.
  • One aspect of the Mariners‘ decision to purchase the contract of outfielder Endy Chavez today was his June 1 opt-out date, tweets Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. The 36-year-old was carrying a .272/.346/.289 triple-slash in 134 plate appearances at Triple-A.
  • Other opt-out situations around the league are coming to a decision point. In addition to attempting to address the clause of rehabbing starter Johan Santana, the Orioles are waiting to find out whether reliever Luis Ayala will opt out of his deal tomorrow, with the expectation that he will, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter links). The veteran righty has allowed three earned runs (with five strikeouts against two walks) in 5 1/3 innings at Double-A thus far in 2014.
  • Meanwhile, Brewers lefty Brad Mills has been excellent at Triple-A and is nearing a June 15 opt-out date, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 29-year-old has a 1.74 ERA in 57 innings (including nine starts), with 9.0 K/9 against just 1.9 BB/9.

Orioles Sign Luis Ayala

10:10pm: Rosenthal tweets that the deal between Ayala and the Orioles is officially complete. In a second tweet, he adds that it's a minor league contract with an invite to big league camp that contains multiple opt-out dates.

10:41am: The Orioles have agreed to a deal with reliever Luis Ayala, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported last night that Ayala had an offer from the Orioles. Ayala is represented by Boston Sports Counsel.

The Nationals released Ayala yesterday. His decision to sign with the Orioles returns him to the team with which he pitched in 2012 and early in 2013, before being traded to the Braves. The 36-year-old posted a 3.27 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 33 big-league innings last year. He has also pitched for the Expos, Nationals, Mets, Marlins, Twins and Yankees in a Major League career spanning parts of nine seasons.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Orioles Near Deal With Luis Ayala

The Orioles are nearing a deal with reliever Luis Ayala, Max Wildstein of OutsidePitchMLB.com tweets. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal mentioned last night (also on Twitter) that Ayala had offers from the Orioles and another team, and that he could make a decision today.

The Nationals released Ayala yesterday after he struggled in spring training. Last season, he posted a 3.27 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 33 innings. Two of those innings came with the Orioles, who traded him to the Braves about a week after the season started. Ayala was also a regular in the Orioles' bullpen in their 2012 playoff season.


Nationals Release Luis Ayala

11:19pm: The Orioles and another team have already offered Ayala contracts, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link).  Ayala is weighing the two offers and will likely make his choice on Thursday.

12:49pm: The Nationals have granted right-hander Luis Ayala his unconditional release, tweets Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington. The veteran reliever will head home to Arizona with the hope of signing on with another club quickly, he adds.

The 36-year-old Ayala struggled in camp with the Nationals, allowing nine runs on 10 hits and a pair of walks with three strikeouts in six innings of work. However, he's coming off a strong performance with the Braves in 2013, in which he pitched to a 2.90 ERA with 5.8 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 59.6 percent ground-ball rate in 31 innings of work. He did miss a chunk of the season on the disabled list as he dealt with anxiety disorder, but a 2.73 ERA in 26 1/3 innings following that DL stint seems to indicate that he was able to work through the issue.

Ayala drew interest from a number of clubs this offseason, including the Mariners, Tigers and Indians, so he could land another shot to prove himself with a different club despite the early struggles in Spring Training.


Quick Hits: Bailey, Burnett, Twins, Samardzija

Even though most of Alex Rodriguez's 2014 salary will be wiped out by his season-long PED suspension, the controversial slugger's contract is still ranked as the worst in baseball by Grantland's Jonah Keri.  Of Keri's list of the 15 worst contracts in the sport, the Dodgers have four, the Yankees, Angels and Braves each have two and the Reds, Rangers, Phillies, Blue Jays and White Sox have one each.

Here are some items from around the baseball world…

  • The Reds and Homer Bailey are "still talking" about a multiyear contract, GM Walt Jocketty tells MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.  "There has not been a lot of progress, but good conversations anyhow," Jocketty said.  Bailey's arbitration hearing is scheduled for February 20 and there is a $2.9MM gap ($11.6MM to $8.7MM) between his demands and the Reds' offer for a 2014 contract.  This is Bailey's last season under contract with Cincinnati and the two sides are reportedly far apart on a long-term deal.  Sheldon suggests that the Reds will be watching the Indians' case with Justin Masterson, as he and Bailey have posted comparable numbers over the last three years and Masterson is also scheduled to be a free agent next offseason.
  • The Pirates offered A.J. Burnett a $12MM contract for 2014, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  This obviously fell short of the $16MM Burnett received from the Phillies earlier today.
  • The Twins aren't one of the teams interested in Emilio Bonifacio, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson reports (via Twitter).  Bonifacio cleared release waivers and became a free agent earlier today.  The Orioles are known to be one of at least nine teams interested in the speedy utilityman.
  • Also from Wolfson, a Twins official said that the club "had extensive talks" about Erisbel Arruebarruena but he was judged to be too expensive.  The Cuban shortstop agreed to a deal with the Dodgers today that could be worth as much as $25MM.
  • The Cubs can afford to be patient in trading Jeff Samardzija, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan argues, as teams may be more willing to meet Chicago's large asking price once the free agent pitching market thins out and teams get more desperate once the season begins.
  • Right-hander Josh Roenicke is drawing interest from a "handful of teams" and could be signed soon, a source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter link).  Roenicke posted a 4.35 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 1.25 K/BB rate in 62 relief innings with the Twins in 2013 before being outrighted off Minnesota's roster in November.
  • Also from Cotillo, right-hander Blake Hawksworth has retired.  Hawksworth posted a 4.07 ERA and 1.85 K/BB over 124 games (eight as a starter) with the Cardinals and Dodgers from 2009-11 before elbow and shoulder injuries derailed his career.  Hawksworth has taken a job with the Boras Corporation, his former agency.
  • Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill discussed the club's recent signing of Carlos Marmol with Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
  • Luis Ayala chose to sign a minor league deal with the Nationals since they (as the Expos) were the franchise that originally signed him and he still has many friends in the organization, the veteran reliever tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  Several teams were linked to Ayala this offseason but the bidding came down to the Nats, Tigers and Phillies.

Nationals To Sign Luis Ayala

2:19pm: MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweets that Ayala would earn $1MM were he to make the club out of Spring Training. Ayala will receive a $500K bonus for appearing in 60 games — a mark Ayala has reached just once since 2008 (in 2012 with Baltimore).

10:55am: The Nationals and Luis Ayala have agreed to a minor league contract. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first tweeted that the two sides were nearing a deal.

Ayala, a client of Boston Sports Counsel's Dan Rosquete, joins Jamey Carroll as the second member of the original 2005 Nationals to return to the club on a minor league deal this offseason. The 36-year-old posted a 2.90 ERA in 31 innings for the Braves last season after being traded over from the Orioles in the first couple weeks of the season (April 10). With Atlanta, Ayala averaged 5.8 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 to go along with a strong 59.6 percent ground-ball rate. However, he also spent just over two months on the disabled list with anxiety disorder, resulting in the diminished innings total.

Ayala's future in the Majors looked questionable following a tough stretch from 2009-10. He signed with the Twins heading into the '09 campaign but posted a 4.18 ERA before getting released, and he allowed 10 runs in 7 2/3 innings after being picked up by the Marlins that season. The end result was a 5.63 ERA, and he didn't fare any better in 2010 when he posted a combined 6.42 ERA at the Triple-A level between three different organizations.

Since that pair of difficult seasons, however, Ayala has revitalized his career with a rock-solid 2.58 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 164 innings for the Yankees, Orioles and Braves. Ayala will look to work his way into a bullpen that features right-handers Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Craig Stammen in addition to lefty Jerry Blevins.