More Orioles: Predicting the Top 2014 Prospect
The Orioles are shopping Ayala because they hope to make a spot on their roster for Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland. Baltimore selected McFarland from the Cleveland Indians in December, and if they hope to retain him he'll have to be on their roster -- or disabled list -- for the entire season.
At this point, Baltimore doesn't have room on its roster for McFarland, as the bullpen currently is projected to contain right-handers Ayala, Jim Johnson, Darren O'Day, Pedro Strop and Tommy Hunter and lefties Troy Patton and Brian Matusz. Connolly notes that the O's would prefer to trade Ayala rather than Hunter or other fellow right-handers.
Baltimore could also clear a spot on its roster if starter Chris Tillman is forced to the disabled list due to an abdominal injury. But the right-hander appears set to start the season on the team's active roster.
Ayala has proven himself a productive reliever in the American League East over the past two seasons while pitching for the Orioles and New York Yankees. He owns an ERA of 2.40 from 2011-12 and a career mark of 3.35.
It's not clear what the O's are seeking in exchange for the 35-year-old, but they have recently been tied to catching depth behind Matt Wieters and Taylor Teagarden. Connolly says Baltimore doesn't necessarily need a player who will command a 40-man roster spot in exchange for Ayala.