Ayala traded to Braves (updated)

BOSTON - The Orioles traded reliever Luis Ayala to the Atlanta Braves today for minor league left-hander Chris Jones, who will be assigned to Double-A Bowie.

The deal allows the Orioles to keep Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland in their bullpen and also gives manager Buck Showalter a fourth bench player with outfielder Chris Dickerson having his contracted selected from Triple-A Norfolk.

Ayala was 6-5 with a 2.81 ERA in 68 games for the Orioles over the past two seasons. He allowed 44 percent of inherited runners to score in 2012.

Jones, 24, is 24-20 with a 3.58 ERA over seven minor league seasons with the Cleveland Indians and Braves. He posted a 3.90 ERA in 45 appearances in relief for Double-A Mississippi in 2012.

The Orioles envision Jones as a lefty reliever who could pitch for them down the road.

“We’d like T.J. McFarland and by trading Luis Ayala, that gave us an opening to keep McFarland on the major league team,” said executive vice president Dan Duquette.

“Also, we like Chris Jones, who we got in the trade. He made a big step last year in Double-AA in the second half of the year. You can see that in his walk/strikeout ratio. He struck out almost 10 batters per nine innings. He also saved a couple games late in the year, so he’s very good against left-handed hitters but also a very capable pitcher. We see him as a left-handed reliever in the big leagues. That’s the job that McFarland will be doing for us on the current staff.

“It was really a move to free up a spot on the current roster for McFarland. Ayala did a nice job for us, but we decided to go with a younger pitcher on the current major league team, and we made a trade for another young left-hander to go in our pipeline for the future.”

Showalter can add Dickerson to his bench. Dickerson was 3-for-15 with Triple-A Norfolk this season before being scratched from the lineup last night. He took a flight to Boston this morning and will be in uniform tonight.

“It’s very difficult for a manager with only a couple of extras on the bench,” Duquette said. “It’s a challenge to go with 13 pitchers. We thought that we could move a pitcher and add a position player. And Chris Dickerson is a qualified major leaguer. If you look at his strengths, he’s good defensively, he can throw well, he gets on base and he has some power. He’s a capable major leaguer.”

Dickerson plays all three outfield positions. The Orioles passed on bringing up a player from Norfolk who also can move to the infield.

“Buck’s got some infielders who can play multiple positions,” Duquette said.

Ayala, 35, made two appearances this season and was charged with two runs and four hits in two innings. He surrendered a three-run homer to Tampa Bay’s Shelley Duncan.

The Indians selected Jones in the 15th round of the 2007 First Year Player Draft out of Gaither High School in Tampa, Fla. He appeared in one game for Mississippi this season, allowing two runs and two hits, with two walks and one strikeout, in 1 1/3 innings.

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