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.
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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.