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Nationals Rumors: Nats And Rays Talking About Catcher Jose Lobaton?

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Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters last weekend at NatsFest that he was still open to adding depth to the Nats' catching corps if the right deal was out there. This afternoon, a former Nationals' executive mentioned Jose Lobaton as one possible target.

Mike Ehrmann

While reiterating that he was happy with the in-house options, Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters last weekend at NatsFest that he remained open to the possibility of adding to the catching depth behind no.1 catcher Wilson Ramos. With Ramos' injury history so far in his career, the idea of adding a catcher who could play every day has been a topic of discussion all winter for the Nationals.

"If a backup catcher that fits what we're trying to do were to become available, we certainly would look into it." - Nats' GM Mike Rizzo talking about acquiring at catcher at NatsFest

"We're looking for value wherever we can find it," Rizzo said. "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. We feel that they are very, very capable backups and with so many teams in the big leagues looking for a good catcher, we feel that we've got a great catcher in Wilson Ramos and capable backups to go behind him."

Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell reported earlier this winter that the Nationals were interested in trading for now-former Cincinnati Reds' catcher Ryan Hanigan before the 33-year-old backstop was dealt to Tampa Bay. "They hoped to deal for then-Reds backup catcher Ryan Hanigan," Boswell wrote, "but would not give up a young pitcher such as Taylor Jordan or Sammy Solis."

The Rays ended up acquiring Hanigan in a three-team trade that brought 22-year-old D-Backs' lefty David Holmberg, who debuted in the majors in 2013, to Tampa Bay. The Rays gave Hanigan a three-year extension and also signed catcher Jose Molina to a 2-year/$4.5M deal this winter. So what about Jose Lobaton?

Lobaton, 29, avoided arbitration with Tampa Bay when he signed a 1-year/$950K deal on January 17th. Tampa Bay Times' writer Marc Topkin wrote this weekend that the Rays were at least considering trading the catcher.

"They are still having talks about trading C Jose Lobaton, but bringing him to camp, though somewhat awkward, isn't the worst idea," Topkin wrote, noting that it would give them insurance if any injuries occurred to their catchers.

In an article this afternoon, former Nationals' GM Jim Bowden, who is currently a host on MLB Network Radio and a writer and analyst for ESPN, wrote that he's heard the Nats are one of the teams that are interested in Lobaton:

"The Nationals have been in discussions with the Rays for catcher Jose Lobaton, as they look for a backup for Wilson Ramos."

In his fourth major league season 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.