Sep 10, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Luis Ayala (20) throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Washington Nationals added bullpen depth Friday afternoon, signing Luis Ayala to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league Spring Training.
Ayala is no stranger to the organization on which he started his major league career 11 years ago. Ayala was originally selected away from the Diamondbacks in the 2002 Rule 5 draft before making his debut with the Expos in 2003. The right-hander played for the Expos/Nationals organization from 2003 to 2008 and played a key role for the bullpen during the Nationals’ inaugural 2005 season.The Nationals traded Ayala to the New York Mets in the middle of the 2008 season, and he’s played for seven organizations since then.
The 36-year-old split time with the Braves and Orioles in 2013, posting a 3.27 ERA in 39 combined appearances. Ayala has a 3.34 career ERA in parts of nine major league seasons with the Expos/Nationals, Twins, Mets, Yankees, Marlins, Orioles and Braves.
The veteran right-hander is expected to compete for a bullpen spot during Spring Training. Ayala will have his work cut out for him as he’ll be competing for one spot with a handful of guys, including Ryan Mattheus, Ross Ohlendorf, Xavier Cedeno, and Tanner Roark, just to name a few. He’ll have plenty of motivation however, as he could make $1 million plus incentives if he makes the big league club.
In what has turned out to be a busy week for the Nationals, general manager Mike Rizzo has made several minor moves that could turn out to be huge for the Nationals in 2014. The Opening Day roster will only have 25 names on it, but it takes all 40 to win a World Series.
Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training for the Nationals in less than a week, kicking off what is expected to be an exciting season for the Washington Nationals. We’ll soon find out which of these signings, if any, will be along for the ride.