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Nats agree to Minor League deal with Ayala

Right-handed reliever started big league career in Expos organization

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals decided to have another reunion of sorts Friday, agreeing to terms with reliever Luis Ayala on a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training, according to a baseball source. The club has not confirmed the signing.

If Ayala makes the team out of Spring Training, he will earn $1 million, plus incentives. Ayala becomes the second player from the 2005 Nationals to reunite with the organization. Jamey Carroll also signed a Minor League deal last month.

Ayala played with the Nats/Expos from 2003-08, and he was one of the team's most reliable relievers. In fact, former manager Frank Robinson once called Ayala his good-luck charm because he won crucial games. Ayala was used mostly as a setup man when he played for the organization.

Washington's bullpen was average -- at best -- last year and the Nationals have been searching for relievers for most of the offseason. They signed left-hander Jerry Blevins and tried to sign Grant Balfour, who ended up with the Rays.

Last year, Ayala had a combined 3.27 ERA for the Orioles and Braves. While with Atlanta, he spent time on the disabled list with an anxiety disorder.

Ayala has a 3.34 career ERA in nine Major League seasons with the Expos/Nats, Mets, Twins, Marlins, Yankees, Orioles and Braves.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats.
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