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Rays trade Jose Lobaton to Nationals for Nate Karns

Feb 13, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT

Jose Lobaton AP

The rumored trade between Tampa Bay and Washington is a reality, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays have traded catcher Jose Lobaton and two unnamed minor leaguers to the Nationals for pitching prospect Nate Karns.

Lobaton became expendable following the Rays’ trade for Ryan Hanigan earlier this offseason and he’ll join the Nationals as a backup for Wilson Ramos. Washington has spent all winter acquiring potential backup catchers, so they clearly felt having a reliable option behind Ramos on the depth chart was very important. Lobaton is a 29-year-old career .228 hitter with a .654 OPS.

Karns made his MLB debut last season at age 25 after throwing 133 innings with a 3.26 ERA and impressive 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings at Double-A. For his career he has 362 strikeouts in 304 innings as a minor leaguer and the Rays are always looking to add young pitching to keep things churning despite low payrolls. Baseball America recently named Karns as the ninth-best prospect in the Nationals’ farm system.

  1. karlkolchak - Feb 13, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Good trade for both sides. The Nats fill their backup catcher need while the Rays get a good young arm who likely projects more as a reliever than a starter. Thumbs up all around.

    • recoveringcubsfan - Feb 13, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      It does look like a fair deal for everyone. I don’t think anyone in DC loved the idea of having just Sandy Leon or Solano behind Ramos, so this is better even if it’s more about feeling comfortable than actually finding the solution. It is a shame to lose Nate Karns, although that was always in the cards because the Nats love high-upside (but fragile) pitching prospects and that put Karns way down on the depth chart. I hope he gets a legit shot with Tampa. Got to meet him once and he was really nice; took the time to introduce himself and explain to all us ignoramuses who he was and what he did in the minors. Compared to lots of prospects, Karns didn’t just accept that nobody knew anything about him, he actually talked baseball instead of just posing for photos. Anyway, it’s always sad to have a good human being leave town – best of luck to him.

  2. sometogethernow - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    I was hoping the Twins would look at acquiring Lobaton before the Suzuki deal happened (and even somewhat after), but this looks like a pretty good return for the Rays and maybe it’s better that MN didn’t make an equivalent deal.

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