Luis Ayala Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 Indians, Tigers, 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.
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.
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 Orioles, Indians, 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.
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.