Spring Training and MLB roster crunches go hand-in-hand, especially when it comes to a team’s position of strength. Case in point: the Baltimore Orioles may be looking to shed a piece of their vaunted bullpen that helped carry the team to the playoffs in 2012.
The potential odd man out? Right-hander Luis Ayala. According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have been actively reaching out to other teams and letting them know that the dial on Ayala’s availability has been set to ‘high’.
No, it’s not really a trade that the team needs to make, and you might even argue that they’d be more competitive in 2013 with Ayala in tow; but, it might be the simplest solution to one of the team’s most apparent (but good) problems.
In short, the team has too many MLB-ready pitchers. I know — quite the conundrum, yes?
Now, that wouldn’t normally be something to be concerned about, as these things have a way of working themselves out in camp. That hasn’t exactly happened, and the most pressing issue? That the team picked up 23-year old lefty T.J. McFarland from the Cleveland Indians in the Rule 5 draft in the off-season, and would prefer not to let him go.
However, with Brian Matusz likely joining the bullpen as the second lefty along with Troy Patton, there’s no room on the 25-man roster for McFarland … for now.
Just exactly what Baltimore is looking for in an Ayala deal is not entirely clear, though Connolly did say that “the club is interested in adding players with minor league options that don’t necessarily have to be placed on the 40-man roster.”
That shouldn’t be very difficult, considering that the 35-year old journeyman has had a career resurgence over the last couple of years after arriving in the gauntlet known as the AL East. The eight-year veteran has reeled off a pair of sub-3.00 ERA seasons, and was a 0.8 fWAR player with a 2.64/1.27 ERA/WHIP and 3.64 K/BB over 75 innings.
In fact, after his strong 2011 season, there were no less than six teams going after him in a free-agent bidding war, including all of the Orioles’ AL East rivals.
With teams like the Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers still looking for help in the bullpen, it’s fairly likely that the Orioles will be able to move Ayala and his $1 million salary over the next week.