Luis AyalaThe Baltimore Orioles have traded relief pitcher Luis Ayala to the Atlanta Braves for minor league lefty Chris Jones. The rumors were swirling at the end of Spring Training that the O’s were looking to move Ayala, I suppose they finally found the right suitor in Atlanta.

Jones will be assigned to Double-A Bowie. As’s Roch Kubatko points out, he is 24-20 with a 3.58 ERA over seven minor league seasons in the Cleveland Indians and Braves organizations. The 24 year old appeared in 45 games in Double-A last season and posted a 3.90 ERA.

More than anything else, this move shows how serious the Orioles are about T.J. McFarland. Last night, the O’s purchased Chris Dickerson‘s contract from Triple-A Norfolk and trading Ayala allows them to keep the current roster intact. It also means Nolan Reimold‘s hamstring injury probably isn’t that serious.

McFarland threw 3 1/3 shutout innings in the Orioles 6-5 loss to the Twins on Saturday. He allowed only one hit and struck out five. He throws a four seem and two seem fastball as well as a slider and change up. He’s a strikes thrower (28 of 40 pitches in his first outing) who’s velocity is in the upper 80s.

As for Chris Jones, Dan Duquette complimented his 2012 season and the Orioles see him as a pitcher who could be in Baltimore down the road.

“Also, we like Chris Jones, who we got in the trade. He made a big step last year in Double-AA in the second half of the year. You can see that in his walk/strikeout ratio. He struck out almost 10 batters per nine innings. He also saved a couple games late in the year, so he’s very good against left-handed hitters but also a very capable pitcher. We see him as a left-handed reliever in the big leagues. That’s the job that McFarland will be doing for us on the current staff.

Steve Melewski points out that Jones also held left handed batters to a .145 average in 2011 in the Carolina League and .244 last year in the Southern League.