Luis Ayala Free Agency Rumors: A Bidding War? Really?

Luis Ayala of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins in the second inning on August 20, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Luis Ayala, the veteran free-agent right-handed relief pitcher who spent the 2011 season with the New York Yankees, could actually be the subject of a little bit of an offseason bidding war. And both the Yankees and New York Mets could wind up involved in it. Amazing!

There are reportedly at least six teams interested in the righty, who will be 34 next season. The Yankees, Mets, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Anaheim Angels and Boston Red Sox have reportedly all expressed interest.

The question to ask is simply 'Why?'

Ayala had a nice season for the Yankees after signing a minor-league contract and making the team. He compiled a 2.09 ERA in 52 appearances, covering 56 innings. His WHIP was 1.268 and his ERA+ was 212. Thing is, Ayala was a low-budget, no-risk signing for the Yankees who did most of his work in low-leverage situations for the Yankees. 

Ayala's good season with the Yankees was his first good year since 2007. In fact, he was not even in the big leagues in 2010.

FanGraphs makes the case that signing Ayala to a guaranteed contract, which means you would be expecting him to be a valuable part of your late-inning set-up crew, would be a mistake.

You can read the FanGraphs statistical data yourself. I will just pass along their conclusion:

Luis Ayala is not worth a bidding war. Teams would be much better-suited to look for relievers with solid underlying numbers that they can sign for similar low-risk deals.

I agree. If the Yankees or Mets can get him on a no-risk, non-guaranteed deal, fine. If not, the New York squads should pass.

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