The Washington Nationals have acquired catcher Jose Lobaton in return for right-hander Nathan Karns, though reports this morning say there could be other as yet unannounced names involved in the deal.
Mike Rizzo talked about Nathan Karns' MLB debut last summer as a success story for the entire Washington Nationals' organization. "It was a great day for the entire organization," he told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier. "You talk about a late draft, a 12th Round [pick], had surgery, was rehabbed by our rehab coordinators down in Viera, was developed by our pitching coaches down in the minor leagues. It's a proud day when those kind of stories get to the mound at Nats Park and really throw a nice ballgame for us."
Karns made three starts for the Nats, going (0-1) with a 7.50 ERA, an 8.38 FIP, six walks (4.50 BB/9) and 11 Ks (8.25 K/9) in 12 IP. The then-25-year-old pitcher returned to Double-A Harrisburg where he finished the 2013 campaign with a (10-6) record, a 3.26 ERA, 3.48 FIP, 48 walks (3.26 BB/9) and 155 Ks (10.52 K/9) in 132 1/3 IP in his third season in the Nats' system after they drafted him in the 12th Round in 2009 out of Texas Tech University.
This morning, according to multiple reports, the Nationals traded Karns to the Tampa Bay Rays in return for the 29-year-old Lobaton:
Nate Karns has been told he's been traded to Tampa.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) February 13, 2014
The Nationals were rumored to be after a catcher all winter as they searched for a backup capable of filling in if no.1 backstop Wilson Ramos once again dealt with injury issues after two straight seasons in which he missed considerable time. In 2012, Ramos suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee and last season he dealt with two separate hamstring issues which cost him over a month on the DL.
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Rizzo told reporters last month that comfortable as he was with the in-house options behind Ramos, the Nationals remained open to a deal. "We're looking for value wherever we can find it," the GM explained. "If a backup catcher that fits what we're trying to do were to become available, we certainly would look into it. We like the pack of guys that are going to compete for it, [Jhonatan] Solano, [Sandy] Leon and Chris Snyder."
This morning, however, the Nats' General Manager made the deal for Lobaton, who was deemed expendable by the Rays after they re-signed Jose Molina and acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan from the Cincinnati Reds. In his fourth major league campaign in 2013, Lobaton, a switch-hitting catcher, put up a .249/.320/.394 line with 15 doubles, two triples and seven home runs in 100 games and 311 plate appearances over which he was worth +1.4 fWAR. Lobaton avoided arbitration with the Rays when he signed a 1-year/$950K deal this winter.
Tampa Bay Times' writer Marc Topkin reported on Twitter this morning that the deal will be announced later today.
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