Orioles sign veteran reliever Luis Ayala for $925,000


UPDATE: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that Ayala gets a one-year, $925,000 deal with a team option for 2013.


Last offseason Luis Ayala could manage only a minor-league deal with the Yankees, but after throwing 56 innings with a 2.09 ERA he had multiple suitors this offseason and Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports that he’s agreed to sign a big-league contract with the Orioles.

Prior to last season Ayala hadn’t posted an ERA below 5.00 since 2007 and he didn’t pitch in the majors at all in 2010, but the 33-year-old right-hander posted the highest strikeout rate of his career at 6.3 per nine innings and did a nice job keeping the ball on the ground for New York.

Based on his secondary numbers Ayala is a prime candidate to regress significantly in 2012, but even if his luck dries up he’s capable of being a useful middle reliever. His addition also seemingly makes it less likely that the Orioles will reacquire Koji Uehara from the Rangers.

Ryan Zimmerman’s spring training has been . . . weird

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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.

While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.

Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.

I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.

On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.