Luis Ayala Rumors

Nationals, Luis Ayala Closing In On Agreement

The Nationals are closing in on a deal with right-hander Luis Ayala, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Ayala is represented by Boston Sports Counsel's Daniel Rosquete.

The 36-year-old Ayala 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.

Ayala's future in the Majors was in doubt following a brutal 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.


Free Agent Notes: Drew, Twins, Ayala, Wells

ESPN's Buster Olney hears that the Yankees won't be making a run at Stephen Drew and are expected to maintain the status quo (Twitter link). Likewise, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Yanks are likely at their spending limit, adding in a second tweet that a more likely move would be to swap a bad contract such as Ichiro Suzuki's for a comparably priced reliever. More free-agent related notes from around the league…

  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN talked with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire yesterday and was told the team is circling back with one more notable free agent. "[Assistant GM] Rob [Antony] just called me the other day and told me they were gonna make another run at a guy, and I'm like, 'Wow that's pretty good,'" said Gardenhire. "So they did it, and whether it works out or not we'll see, and they're not done. … They're after it. I know that." Wolfson's hunch is that Gardenhire is not referring to Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, but rather a bat or Bronson Arroyo (All links to Twitter).
  • Among the teams with interest in reliever Luis Ayala are the IndiansTigers, and Mariners, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The 36-year-old Mexican has unquestionably delivered results of late. Over the span of 2011-13, Ayala has a 2.58 ERA in 164 innings, landing him right outside the top 30 MLB relievers in ERA (min. 100 IP) over that time frame. Though Ayala's 3.85 FIP and 3.99 xFIP across the last three seasons may be cause to temper expectations, he has succeeded by consistently inducing grounders (51.4% GB%) and limiting homers (0.77 HR/9) at better than league average rates.
  • Three teams watched righty Jared Wells throw on Wednesday, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 32-year-old has not seen MLB action since a brief stint in 2008, and played in Independent ball last year after spending a few seasons in the upper minors.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Latest On Luis Ayala

The Tigers, Indians, and Orioles are among the teams that have shown interest in right-handed reliever Luis Ayala this offseason, MLBTR has learned.  Ayala has received strong interest overall, and seeks a Major League deal.  

Ayala, 36 this month, posted a 3.27 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 0.55 HR/9, and 58.9% groundball rate in 33 innings for the Orioles and Braves in 2013.  Ayala began 2013 with Baltimore, but was traded to the Braves in April and later spent time on the DL for an anxiety disorder.  Among relievers with at least 30 innings in 2013, Ayala's groundball rate ranked 15th in MLB.  In addition to the aforementioned teams, I think clubs such as the Yankees, Mariners, Marlins, Mets, and Brewers may be fits for Ayala.  It seems likely that the free agent market will pick back up starting Monday as executives return to the office.



Pitching Notes: Dodgers, Giants, Mujica, Ayala, Williams

The market for starting pitchers has actually started off at reasonable prices, argues Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com. Running the numbers on the price of a projected win for the starters who have signed to date, he says that a preliminary look shows that early-moving teams look to have achieved solid value. Here's more on the pitching market around the league:

  • Even if the Dodgers are willing to spend the huge amount of cash that Masahiro Tanaka's posting and signing is expected to require, says Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com, it is far from clear how the club would sort its rotation out to accomodate him. GM Ned Colletti has said that he is "not going to close the door on any more starters" even after adding Dan Haren on a one-year deal with a vesting option. Saxon notes, however, that it would be more difficult to push aside Josh Beckett and/or Chad Billingsley than it was for the club to do last year with Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang. Of course, Tanaka may be good enough that, if the price is right, that problem is one you just deal with as best you can.
  • The Giants, on the other hand, seem less likely than their rivals to the south to consider the addition of another starter, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today reporting that the club's rotation is set after re-signing Ryan Vogelsong. As Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News noted earlier today, the rotation seemed complete upon the return of Vogelsong, given GM Brian Sabean's earlier comments that he would not make the veteran compete for his slot in the spring. Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, and Tim Hudson round out the club's starting five.
  • Meanwhile, it could well be that San Francisco could look to add pen pieces given their decision to add veteran arms to the back of its rotation, reasons Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Sulia). It is easier and cheaper to add relief arms, he notes, and the club could look to ease the burden on its starters by following the Dodgers and Cardinals in trotting out multiple arms that can throw quality innings.
  • Free agent reliever Edward Mujica of the Cardinals is drawing interest from a variety of teams, according to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The Angels are probably out after inking Joe Smith, Cotillo notes. But the OriolesIndians, and Cubs have at least kicked the tires on Mujica, joining the Phillies in pursuit of the 29-year-old. 
  • Right-handed reliever Luis Ayala, who produced solid results last year at age 35 for the Orioles and Braves, is also in search of a multi-year deal, Cotillo reports. He has not yet seen an offer, but has received interest from the Red Sox and Rays as well as the Dodgers, Giants, O's, and Phils. Meanwhile, the Royals have seemingly stepped away from Ayala after showing initial interest.
  • One other arm that could enter the market is Angels righty Jerome Williams. Soon to turn 32, Williams' agent Larry O'Brien tells Cotillo (Twitter link) that he is rooting against a tender from the Halos since "there are many teams he could effectively start for." That statement seems to imply what has long been suspected about Williams, which is that Los Angeles does not intend to use him as a starter. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes wrote in reporting Matt Swartz's $3.9MM projection for Williams, a non-tender is a very real possibility for the swingman. Of course, as MLBTR's Zach Links has explained, there are few teams with as many projected rotation holes as the Angels.

Braves Acquire Luis Ayala

The Braves have acquired right-hander Luis Ayala from the Orioles in exchange for minor league lefty Chris Jones, the Orioles announced (on Twitter).

As Roch Kubatko of MASNsports notes (on Twitter), the move allows the team to call up outfielder Chris Dickerson and makes it easier to keep Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland on the 25-man roster.

Ayala, 35, returned to baseball in 2011 after not pitching in the Major Leagues in 2010. Since his comeback, he's reinvented himself, compiling a 2.50 ERA, 6.2 K/0 and 2.3 BB/9 in 133 innings of work. While he's not a left-handed reliever, Ayala gives Braves' manager Fredi Gonzalez another late-inning option with Jonny Venters currently on the shelf.

The 24-year-old Jones has a 3.58 ERA, 8.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 356 2/3 minor league innings. He's yet to pitch higher than the Double-A level, where he's maintained his solid strikeout numbers but owns a 4.11 ERA. He will report to Double-A Bowie for the Orioles.


Orioles Could Trade Luis Ayala

The Orioles are contacting other teams to let them know reliever Luis Ayala is available in a trade, the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly reports. The O’s would like to find space on their 25-man roster for Rule 5 Draft pick T.J. McFarland. They might be looking for players in return who aren’t required to be placed on the 40-man roster, Connolly says.

Baltimore is known to be interested in finding depth to back up Matt Wieters and Taylor Teagarden at catcher.

Ayala will make $1MM in 2013. He pitched 75 innings for the Orioles in 2012, posting a 2.64 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9.


Orioles Exercise 2013 Option For Luis Ayala

WEDNESDAY: The Orioles officially exercised Ayala's option today, the team announced.

MONDAY: The Orioles will exercise their 2013 club option for right-handed reliever Luis Ayala, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports (Twitter links). Though a formal announcement won't come until later in the week, executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette made it clear the Orioles intend to retain Ayala.

"Ayala had a good year and he has a reasonable contract. There's value there to the team," Duquette said. 

Ayala will earn $1MM in 2013 instead of obtaining a $1MM buyout. The 34-year-old posted a 2.64 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 75 innings of relief work this past season. The Orioles have two days to decide on Mark Reynolds' $11MM club option for 2013. They're expected to decline, since he'd earn less than $11MM through the arbitration process.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


NL West Notes: Rockies, Padres, Ayala

Matt Kemp's $160MM extension stands out as the largest financial commitment made by any NL West team so far this offseason and Michael Cuddyer's three-year, $31.5MM contract with the Rockies checks in as the biggest free agent deal signed by one of the NL West teams. Here are the latest links from the division…

  • Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd told Troy Renck of the Denver Post that he expects his club to improve in 2012, but doesn’t expect any one player to radically alter the team’s chances of winning. “Overall, we don't think anyone we signed or traded for is going to sprinkle pixie dust on our issues or make them go away,” O’Dowd said. “That has to happen internally with us doing things the right way consistently."
  • Padres president Tom Garfinkel said on XX1090 in San Diego that the reported terms of the team’s upcoming TV deal are too high, MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets. USA Today reported yesterday that the Padres are poised to sign a 20-year deal worth $75MM annually.
  • Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN.com adds the Giants and Rangers to the list of teams that had interest in Luis Ayala before the right-hander agreed to terms with the Orioles (Twitter link).

Orioles To Sign Luis Ayala

The Orioles have agreed to sign Luis Ayala to a one-year, $925K deal that is pending a physical. The deal includes a $1MM team option for 2013 ($100K buyout). Ayala has a base salary of $825K in 2012 and could earn more by reaching incentives. The Orioles have announced their deal with the Paragon Sports International client.

Ayala, 34, posted a 2.09 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 50% ground ball rate in 56 innings for the Yankees last year. The Red Sox, Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays, Angels, Mets and Tigers were all linked to him earlier in the offseason.

Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com first reported the agreement and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun added the terms. Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLBTR added detail (Twitter links).


Quick Hits: Ortiz, Garza, Angels, Anibal, Cook, Ayala

Eight years ago today, the Cardinals and Albert Pujols avoided arbitration by agreeing to a seven-year, $100MM contract. It's the largest contract ever given to a player with between 3-4 years of service time. Here's the latest from around the league…

  • David Ortiz told Javier Maymi of ESPN Deportes that he still wants to avoid an arbitration hearing and sign a multiyear deal, but acknowledged that he's left it up "to the agents and the team to deal with it." Earlier this week we heard that he and the Red Sox were likely headed to a hearing. Ortiz filed for $16.5MM while the team countered with $12.65MM, as our Arbitration Tracker shows.
  • One executive told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he expects the Cubs to trade Matt Garza at the deadline and not before Opening Day (Twitter link). The two sides recently avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $9.5MM contract for 2012.
  • The Angels would still like to add another reliever if the price is right, reports Morosi (on Twitter). They reportedly have an offer out to Luis Ayala, though the free agent relief market is dwindling.
  • Juan C. Rodriguez of The Sun Sentinel hears that Anibal Sanchez's arbitration decision is expected to be announced on Monday (Twitter link). Sanchez filed for $8MM while the Marlins countered with $6.9MM. The hearing was yesterday.
  • Aaron Cook told WEEI.com's Alex Speier that several teams were willing to give him a Major League contract, and that two clubs even made such offers. He took a minor league deal from the Red Sox because he liked the fit better, and because he knows pitching coach Bob McClure from his days in the minors.
  • Ayala is currently pitching for Mexico in the Caribbean Series like last year, hoping it will land him a job again writes MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. "I haven't had any good offers but I'm confident that, God permits, I will get a chance to pitch for a team that will allow me to show my abilities," he said.
  • In an article for The Los Angeles Times, Mike DiGiovanna lists the best and worst free agent signings at each position this offseason.