Nats sign Luis Ayala to minor league deal

Remember that list of players that the Nationals will have as part of their spring training roster? We can add another name to it.

The Nationals have signed right-handed reliever Luis Ayala to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training, a source confirmed late this morning.

Ayala, 36, spent the 2013 season with the Orioles and Braves, posting a 3.27 ERA in 39 games. He struck out 22 and walked 13 over 33 innings of work.

This marks Ayala’s second stint with the Nationals organization; he played for the Expos from 2003-2004 and then came over with the organization in its move to D.C. in 2005.

Ayala then pitched for the Nationals in 2005 and 2007, and then appeared in 62 games for the Nats in 2008 before being traded to the Mets.

Ayala will join Ryan Zimmerman and Jamey Carroll as members of the original 2005 Nationals that will be in camp with the team this year.

After posting four straight seasons with an ERA under 3.20 from 2003-2007, Ayala’s numbers worsened in 2008 and 2009, but he jumped back onto the scene in 2011 when he put up a 2.09 ERA in 52 games with the Yankees.

He followed that up by posting a 2.64 ERA with the Orioles in 2012.

Ayala will compete for a spot in a Nationals bullpen that suddenly has lots of competition. Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Jerry Blevins and Craig Stammen appear to have jobs locked up going into spring, leaving a host of guys competing for the final two spots.

Among those competing for jobs: Xavier Cedeno, Ross Ohlendorf, Tanner Roark, Ryan Mattheus, Christian Garcia, Manny Delcarmen and Erik Davis. first reported that the Nats were close to a deal with Ayala.

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