Analysis: Luis Ayala to the Mets

With an unhappy and struggling Luis Ayala set for free agency at the end of the season, the Nationals decided to cut their losses and try to get something in return for him.

Luis Ayala simply needed a change of scenery. After going through a divorce and getting shot in the left (non-pitching) arm over the off-season, Ayala came into 2008 with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Then, struggling throughout the season didn't help his demeanor, which got even worse when the Nationals overlooked him to take over as the team's closer when Chad Cordero went down. Ayala had reportedly requested a trade and with Mets GM Omar Minaya being a big fan of Ayala, the Mets were a natural landing spot for the right-hander.

The Mets claimed Ayala on waivers last week and the two teams then had 48 hours to work out a trade and needed almost all of that time to agree on a player. Finally, the Nationals accepted infielder Anderson Hernandez, who actually started the 2006 season as the Mets everyday second baseman, but has found little playing time in the majors since then. This season, he's also struggled at Triple-A, hitting just .203 at New Orleans.

Anderson Hernandez comes to the Nationals on the recommendation of manager Manny Acta who was a coach with the Mets in 2005 and 2006 when Hernandez was in the majors with New York.
Losing Ayala isn't a major concern to the Nationals, who weren't interested in re-signing him as a free agent at the end of the season. Plus, the fact that he was going to be a Type C free agent meant that the Nationals wouldn't get anything in return when he signed elsewhere. With that in mind, the theory was that anything they could get from the Mets would be better.

Nationals manager Manny Acta was a coach with the Mets in 2005 and 2006 when Hernandez spent time on the major league club and he pushed for Hernandez to be in the deal. Acta cited Hernandez' defensive skills and attitude as primary reasons why he would be a good fit on the Nationals club.

Hernandez hasn't shown the ability to hit in the majors and has just a career average of .138 in 35 major league games. He does give the Nationals a stellar defensive player who will likely find his niche with the club as a utility player and with any luck, he may be able to develop into an adequate offensive player. The Nationals will have to wait until Wednesday to actually have Hernandez available on the roster, since he needs to clear minor league waivers before the trade becomes official. It's not likely that there will be any problems with him clearing waivers and the Nationals expect to have him available when they play in Philadelphia Wednesday night.

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