Luis Ayala Rumors
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."
Links for Tuesday...
- Chat today, 2pm CST.
- Rangers president Nolan Ryan called the Winter Meetings "a big waste of money and time."
- Nationals GM Jim Bowden implied that a Tom Glavine signing is unlikely.
- Kyle Lohse feels the pain of all the unsigned free agents; he didn't sign until March 14th last year. Lohse said he "put a lot of pressure on all parties" to get his four-year, $41MM extension done on September 29th. Given that it wasn't on the open market, Scott Boras did well for Lohse.
- The Dodgers prefer Dennys Reyes over Luis Ayala, says Ken Gurnick.
- Joe Posnanski loves the Zack Greinke signing. Sam Mellinger says the Royals and fans are no longer allowed to complain about baseball's financial structure.
- Maury Brown leans slightly toward Ryan Howard winning his arbitration case. I think the Phillies will prevail.
- Brandon Lyon turned down more lucrative offers for a chance to close in Detroit. ESPN's Keith Law likes the Tigers' signing, in part due to Jim Leyland's track record with relievers.
- The Marlins seem to prefer the trade market, if they are to add a catcher.
- Joe Nathan knows his $47MM extension signed in March of '08 is looking pretty good right now.
3:30pm: A bunch of reporters played telephone with Rosenthal's "inside track" report on Wolf, saying the Dodgers were close to a deal. You can see that Stark rejected that notion below, and Tony Jackson agrees that they are not close.
12:50pm: According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, the Dodgers have intensified their talks with free agent starters Randy Wolf, Jon Garland, and Braden Looper. Stark says that rather than favoring Wolf, the Dodgers have equal interest in all three and hope to sign one within a few days. He adds that the Dodgers haven't spoken to Wolf's agent Arn Tellem in several days.
Stark says the Dodgers continue to pursue Dennys Reyes, Luis Ayala, and Russ Springer, and plan to take care of their pitching staff before addressing Manny Ramirez.
According to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, Dodgers catcher Russell Martin hopes to discuss a long-term extension with the team this winter. Martin changed agents this offseason. He's arbitration-eligible for the first time, so his salary will jump up from $500K to several million. Said Martin:
"I just want to get treated fairly. I'm not trying to steal the bank."
Martin had a private lunch with the McCourts yesterday at the Dodgers' new spring home, but they did not discuss a contract. Brian McCann will be paid $15.5MM for his three arb years, $8.5MM for his first free agent year, and has a $12MM club option for another. That deal was signed almost two years ago, however. Also, Martin is a Super Two player and under team control through 2012.
In other Dodgers' notes, Shaikin adds that they've backed off on Juan Cruz. Jon Garland, Braden Looper, Randy Wolf, Andy Pettitte, Luis Ayala, and Dennys Reyes remain on the radar to varying degrees.
2:47am: MLB.com's Thomas Harding digs further. He says Taveras did not fail a physical, and the other player in the trade was hard-throwing righty Juan Morillo (who is out of options).
12:50am: Troy Renck says the Tim Redding-Willy Taveras deal is on life support. An upgrade from dead, I suppose. He says:
A potential deal died late Tuesday over apparent concerns about Willy Taveras’ left leg stress fracture. However, a Natonals’ source said that the bigger issue was a medical issue with a pitcher Washington was to receive as part of the deal. That leaves the lingering possibility that something could get done Thursday following the Rule 5 draft.
Both players remain non-tender candidates for Friday. Thomas Harding says the Rockies have slim hope of a deal for Taveras.
Other notes from Harding: The Rockies decided against making an offer to Brad Penny and they're waiting to hear back on a minor league offer to Glendon Rusch. Renck says they do have interest in Luis Ayala.
According to MLB.com's Marty Noble, the Mets offered arbitration to Type A free agent Oliver Perez. None of their other free agents received an offer, including Type Bs Luis Ayala and Moises Alou. No big surprises here.