Rays, Red Sox showing interest in Luis Ayala

Scott Cunningham

Tampa and Boston join the Dodgers, Giants, Braves, Orioles and Phillies in pursuit of the reliever.

The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are showing preliminary interest in reliever Luis Ayala, according to a source. As I previously reported, Ayala has also received interest this winter from the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies. The Kansas City Royals, who expressed preliminary interest, have backed off from their pursuit of Ayala.

Ayala is in search of a two-year deal, but has not received any offers due to the slow market for middle relievers. His camp is waiting for his market to develop, and expects the Winter Meetings in mid-December to be busy in terms of deals for middle relievers.

Ayala, who turns 36 in January, posted a 2-1 record and 3.27 ERA in 39 relief appearances with the Orioles and Braves in 2013. He was shipped to Atlanta on April 10 after appearing in two games for Baltimore, and posted a 2.90 ERA in 37 appearances for the Braves for the remainder of the season.

Ayala was sidelined for over two months with what the Braves called an anxiety disorder, but the source noted that a stomach virus was the cause of Ayala's strength problems. He lost strength due to the virus, and spent his rehab time building up arm strength in hopes of returning to the team for the stretch run.

In nine major league seasons with the Expos/Nationals (2003-2005, 2007-2008), Mets(2008), Twins (2009), Marlins (2009), Yankees (2011), Orioles (2012-2013) and Braves (2013), Ayala is the owner of a lifetime 38-47 record with a 3.34 ERA in 534 relief appearances. He has been a consistent ground-ball pitcher throughout his career, and has shown improvement over his last three seasons with New York, Baltimore and Atlanta.

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