Luis Ayala Rumors
The Miami Herald reports that the Marlins are considering George Sherrill and Luis Ayala as they look to improve an injury-depleted bullpen. There's also confirmation of Jon Heyman's weekend report that the Marlins discussed Joakim Soria and Heath Bell.
ESPN.com's Buster Olney says Alex Rodriguez will never be as marketable as he once was, but the Yankees would settle for a return to his standard high level of play. A-Rod's not impressing scouts anymore, but all the Yankees can do is keep playing him and hope he returns to form. After all, he has eight years on his contract after this one. Here are the rest of Olney's rumors:
- Olney confirms what we heard earlier today: the Marlins are looking for a proven reliever. Olney says Danys Baez could work, as well as LaTroy Hawkins and Luis Ayala.
- The Marlins have been considering Mark DeRosa, but they could stay internal at third base and play Emilio Bonifacio and Gaby Sanchez.
- Executives expect DeRosa to go to whoever offers the best young pitching, something teams are increasingly unwilling to part with.
- Executives considered the Reds' starting pitching depth possible trade bait, but until Edinson Volquez returns, Cincinnati doesn't have as many pitchers as expected.
Some links to peruse as we await the baseball equivalent of the Shaq trade...
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson reports that Ronnie Belliard isn't sure if he'll play another season.
- Mark DeRosa tops the list of infielders most likely to be traded, if you ask Matthew Pouliot of NBC Sports.
- Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post says the Rockies shouldn't deal anyone but Garrett Atkins.
- Huston Street believes getting traded led to a "good opportunity," according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- ESPN.com's Rob Neyer says Luis Ayala is far from irreplaceable.
- I'll be talking rumors on the TEAM 1380 in St. Louis at around 6:20 CST tonight, so tune in if you get the chance.
9:28pm: John Perrotto has another article up, saying the Pirates are only interested in Ayala at a "greatly reduced cost," i.e. the "vast majority" of the $700k still owed to him would need to be picked up by the Twins.
8:22am: The Pirates are interested in trading for reliever Luis Ayala, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. John Perrotto of PiratesReport.com confirms the Pirates' interest in the 31-year-old righty, who was designated for assignment by the Twins on Monday.
Serving up absolutely the most hyper of links from across the baseball sphere, with more to come:
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik sat down for a lengthy Q&A with fans on MLB.com. Ever wanted to know what it's like to be a GM? "It's cool," says Zduriencik.
- David Murphy at the Philadelphia Inquirer talked to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, who echoes a belief around the league: “I think things will heat up late, because everybody is still kind of in it,” he said.
- According to Jorge Arangure at ESPN the Magazine, the Padres are keeping tabs on Dominican OF Jose Alberto Peña and pitcher Cristopher Cabrera.
- Paul DePodesta says the Padres have come to terms with their third, fifth and seventh round picks.
- Juan C. Rodriguez at the Sun-Sentinel wonders if the Marlins should go after Luis Ayala now that Matt Lindstrom has hit the DL.
- Eric Seidman at Fangraphs takes a nifty look at batting average on ground balls. David Wright currently leads the majors with a .471 average in that department.
- Geoff Baker at the Seattle Times discusses the ramifications of potential trade piece Adrian Beltre's recent bout with bone spurs.
TUESDAY, 8:34pm: According to MLB.com's Kelly Thesier, Ayala requested a trade from the Twins three weeks ago.
"He asked for this, and when you ask out of here, you will get out of here," said manager Ron Gardenhire. "It's simple." The right-hander apparently wanted a setup role, but "wasn't pitching well enough to be an eighth-inning guy," according to Gardenhire, the Twins' ultimate decision-maker.
MONDAY, 4:22pm: ESPN relays an AP report that says the Twins designated reliever Luis Ayala for assignment to make room for right-hander Bobby Keppel.
Ayala signed with Minnesota for $1.3MM this winter, but he didn't pitch as well as the Twins had hoped. He allowed eight walks and 38 hits in just over 32 innings, striking out 21. He allowed four home runs this season, most recently to Lance Berkman on Saturday during the Astros' come-from-behind win.
According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Twins offered $3MM guaranteed to Eric Gagne before signing Luis Ayala. That would've been a mess, given the damage found in Gagne's shoulder. But perhaps the Twins would've balked after giving Gagne a physical.
Christensen adds that the Twins continue to monitor free agent reliever Chad Cordero, who is coming back from shoulder surgery.
8:48 Neal has another update, reporting that Ayala's contract is indeed guaranteed. Ayala will get the previously-reported $1.3MM base salary, along with $250K of appearance incentives. $50K for 50 appearance, and then another $50K for every five games after that - up to 70 games.
Ayala also has bonuses for finishing games, which would require an injury to All-Star closer Joe Nathan. He also has bonuses for making the All-Star team, winning ALCS or World Series MVP honors, or finishing in the Top 3 of the Rolaids Relief Award.
Aside from his appearance incentives, none seem plausible. Nothing further on Cruz or Cordero in this update.
9:52am: La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune learned that newly-signed reliever Luis Ayala does not have a guaranteed contract:
The Twins can cut Ayala up until 16 days before Opening Day and be on the hook for just 1/6th of his $1.3MM salary [about $217K]. If they cut him 15 days from the first pitch on in, they are on the hook for about 1/4th of the salary [$325K]. The Twins have a little protection if Ayala doesn’t have a good spring.
That's good to hear, because Ayala wasn't really deserving of a guaranteed contract based on his '08 and the current market. Neal also has more on Juan Cruz:
If Cruz is moved as part of a sign and trade deal, Arizona is out a first-round pick and sandwhich round pick as compensation. That should influence the types of players the D'Backs would want in return for Cruz. It also stands to reason that several teams, and not just the Twins, would be in on Cruz if draft picks aren’t a factor. But there are indications that Arizona can’t just sit back and demand a lot for Cruz. Cruz is making noises about sitting out until after the June draft, so Arizona would get nothing for compensation once Cruz signs with a club. So there’s motivation on their part to get something in return for him. The Twins have made a call to the league office to check on the change in the sign-and-trade rules. If they haven’t already been informed of the changes they should know today.
Sitting out is Cruz's only leverage...is he bluffing? A bit more on the relief front: Neal was unable to confirm that the Twins attended Chad Cordero's audition yesterday.
According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Twins reached an agreement with reliever Luis Ayala today on a one-year, $1.3MM deal. He can earn another $575K in incentives. If met, he'd exceed his '08 salary of $1.7MM. Ayala was ranked as a Type B free agent after the season, but the Mets did not offer him arbitration.
Ayala, 31, posted a 5.71 ERA in 75.6 innings for the Nationals and Mets last year. He stuck out just 5.95 per nine innings, but showed good control with a 2.85 BB/9. He showed an elevated groundball rate in his short stint with the Mets. FanGraphs valued last year's performance at $100K.
Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a few updates on the Twins' hot stove:
- The club has had discussions with free agent reliever Luis Ayala, who finished with a 5.71 ERA in 81 appearances for the Nationals and Mets last season.
- The Twins had two scouts at Joe Crede's workout on Wednesday. Christensen writes that "it sounds like they need to see him more times before they’ll feel safe investing millions of guaranteed money."