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.