By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
4:27 PM EDT, March 20, 2014
SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles are working on a minor league deal with right-hander Luis Ayala, according to industry sources.
Ayala, who was a valuable reliever on the Orioles' 2012 playoff team, was released by the Washington Nationals on Wednesday following a rough spring training in which he allowed nine runs and 10 hits in six innings.
The move would give the Orioles added bullpen depth with a familiar reliever.
The 36-year-old reliever would report to minor league camp in Twin Lakes Park. The deal is believed to be a split contract that would pay Ayala a separate daily salary rate if his contract is purchased by the major league club.
Ayala was 5-5 with a 2.64 ERA in 75 innings over 66 games for the Orioles in 2012. Before the 2012 season, he signed a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $925,000 with a $1 million club option for 2013.
The Orioles exercised that club-friendly option, but they traded Ayala to the Atlanta Braves last April in exchange for minor-league left-hander Chris Jones, a move that made it easier to retain Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland in a crowded bullpen. Jones was added to the 40-man roster this season, but he was released early this spring and later re-signed.
Ayala was 1-1 with a 2.90 ERA in 37 games with the Braves last year, but he missed 64 games with an anxiety disorder.
The Orioles already have several right-handed relievers competing for the final bullpen spot, including Josh Stinson (who is out of minor league options), Brad Brach, Steve Johnson and nonroster pitchers Evan Meek and Alfredo Aceves.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun