Ayala now on Angels’ radar

The Angels have expressed interest in free-agent reliever Luis Ayala, a source with knowledge of the situation told MLB.com. Right now, though, it appears they’re one of four clubs interested in giving the 34-year-old right-hander a big league contract, an industry source said.

Ayala signed a Minor League deal with the Yankees last February and had a big bounce-back year, posting a 2.09 ERA and a 1.268 WHIP in 56 innings (spanning 52 appearances). For his big league career, he has a 3.47 ERA and a 1.286 WHIP in seven seasons.

Ayala has been lights out while pitching for the Yaquis de Obregon of the Mexican winter league this offseason, giving up just two earned runs in 19 2/3 innings (good for an ERA of 0.92) while striking out 13 batters and walking four. A report out of Mexico said Ayala was choosing between the Angels and Orioles, but a source said that of Saturday, teams hadn’t begun tendering formal offers.

The Angels signed veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins to a $3 million contract in December and are looking to add more depth to a bullpen that was tied for the American League lead in blown saves last season. Ayala could be drawn to Southern California because of its strong Mexican-American presence and its close proximities to Ayala’s native country.

Alden Gonzalez

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