"He takes the ball every day, he never complains and he gets the job done. He has nasty stuff. He warms up quick to get in a game," general manager Jim Bowden said.
Agent Joseph Longo said that Ayala started throwing on Jan. 1 and looks forward to playing two more years with the Nationals.
"They wanted him to know how much they like him and appreciate what he has done. Luis is really happy, and as far as the elbow goes, Dr. Lewis Yocum gave him a clean bill of health," Longo said. "He likes Washington. He likes [manager] Frank Robinson. He likes it there, and their bullpen did about as good as you can get."
The team now has four players -- Marlon Byrd, Nick Johnson, Brian Schneider and Alfonso Soriano -- who are still eligible for arbitration.
As for Tucker, he is expected to be the fourth outfielder for the Nationals. Last season, the left-handed-hitting Tucker, 34, spent time with the Giants and Phillies. He hit a combined .239 with five home runs and 36 RBIs.
This will be the second time Tucker has worked with Bowden. They were together when both were with the Reds from 1999 to 2001. Tucker was a fourth outfielder for Bowden back then.
"He can play regularly if we have injuries. He is good off the bench. He's a good makeup guy in the clubhouse," Bowden said. "Frank Robinson and I went to a Lakers game at the Staples Center on Friday night and we talked about how much we need to improve the bench, and we talked about how Michael Tucker would fit in so well. We certainly have a need for another outfielder, and we certainly think we have improved our bench."
Although Tucker is on the team, this does not mean that the Nationals are looking to trade Byrd, Ryan Church or Brandon Watson. According to a source, Robinson is going to have Byrd, Church and Watson battle for the job in center field. The team would like Watson to win the job because he has the potential to be a prototypical leadoff hitter.
In other news: There will be a Major League/Minor League doubleheader at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium on Sunday, May 21. It will be the first of its kind in Washington history.
The Nationals will take on the Orioles at 1:05 p.m., followed by the Potomac Nationals taking the field against the Salem Avalanche.