Report: Red Sox and Rays interested in reliever Luis Ayala

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Luis Ayala had to settle for a spring training invite last offseason, but he might find a guaranteed major league contract this winter.

According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, the Red Sox and Rays are among the teams who have “checked in” on the veteran right-hander.

Ayala, who turns 34 in January, made the Yankees’ Opening Day roster this season and posted a 2.09 ERA and 39/20 K/BB ratio over 56 innings. He also induced ground balls 50 percent of the time, his highest percentage since 2004 as a member of the Expos.

Ayala didn’t pitch in the majors at all in 2010 and had an ugly 5.68 ERA from 2008-09 between the Nationals, Mets, Twins and Marlins. His peripherals weren’t overly impressive this season and his strand rate was a little on the fortunate side, so some regression could be in order for 2012.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.