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Braves acquire Ayala from Orioles for Minor Leaguer

MIAMI -- The Braves were unsuccessful in their attempt to improve the depth of their bullpen before the start of the regular season. But they believe they did so on Wednesday by acquiring veteran right-handed reliever Luis Ayala from the Orioles in exchange for Minor League reliever Chris Jones.

"Early in the season, you're looking to add depth to your bullpen," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "[Ayala] is a guy that you're not afraid to put in a tough situation. He has been successful in the American League East the past two years and has experience pitching in big spots during the late innings."

With some uncertainty surrounding Jonny Venters, who is on the disabled list with a sprained left elbow, the Braves could benefit from the addition of another proven presence in their bullpen. Eric O'Flaherty and Jordan Walden are currently serving as the primary setup men for closer Craig Kimbrel.

"We'll use [Ayala]," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We've got the back end of our bullpen pretty much solidified. We'll see how we use him."

Ayala posted a 2.40 ERA while combining for 118 appearances with the Yankees and Orioles over the past two seasons. The 35-year-old right-hander allowed two earned runs and four hits in the only two innings he completed for the Orioles this year.

Ayala has allowed four hits in six at-bats against right-handed hitters this year. Last year, right-handed hitters batted .262 against him and left-handed hitters compiled a .284 batting average.

Wren said he had some discussions about acquiring Ayala in Spring Training. The Orioles finally opted to make this deal that allowed them to keep Rule 5 selection T.J. McFarland in their bullpen.

The Braves will not need to make a roster move until Ayala joins the team before Friday's series opener against the Nationals. At that time, they could choose to designate either Cristhian Martinez or Anthony Varvaro for assignment. Both right-handed relievers are out of options.

Jones posted a 3.90 ERA in 45 relief appearances for Double-A Mississippi last year. The 24-year-old left-hander was acquired from the Indians in exchange for Derek Lowe after the 2011 season.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for

Atlanta Braves, Luis Ayala