Luis Ayala chooses Mexico over Orioles’ Triple-A team

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Veteran reliever Luis Ayala opted out of his minor-league contract with the Orioles last week and became a free agent because they wouldn’t call him up to the majors, and now Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports that the 36-year-old right-hander will pitch in the Mexican League.

Ayala is from Mexico, so it’s possible that he had some other Triple-A offers and simply decided to head home rather than keep grinding away in the International or Pacific Coast Leagues.

Ayala looked washed up 4-5 years ago, but then he posted a 2.58 ERA in 164 innings from 2011-2013. Yet despite that good work no teams ever seemed to really trust him as a bullpen option, so he bounced around and now couldn’t get back to the big leagues.

Royals sign Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal

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Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday.

After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.

With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.