The current free agent market just added a reliever to its ranks.
Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that 36-year old relief pitcher Luis Ayala has exercised his opt-out clause in his contract with the Baltimore Orioles. Saturday marked the end of May and was the deadline for the Orioles to call him up to the Major Leagues. If he was not called up, he could opt out of the contract and become a free agent, which he has decided to do. Ayala started the pre-season with the Washington Nationals, but was released towards the end of Spring Training.
Ayala has pitched in the Orioles organization before. Last year, he split time between Baltimore and Atlanta and spent all of 2012 with the Orioles. Last season, Ayala made 39 appearances between the two clubs, posting a 2-1 record with a 3.27 ERA over 33 innings. He has posted solid strike out numbers, both in the per nine innings and per walks categories.
This season, with Double-A Bowie, Ayala pitched in just five games, amassing a 5.06 ERA in five innings pitched. He was due to pitch on Friday night but could not due to illness. He hits the free agent market at a time when teams are starting to find out their identities for the season and could need some depth in their bullpen.
Teams that could use some help in relief include the Braves, Rangers, Angels, Yankees, and Royals among others who might need to reinforce what they have. Ayala is likely to pursue a Major League opportunity rather than try to get a minor-league deal with another opt-out.