Over 39 games and 114 plate appearances in 2016, 32-year-old backup backstop Jose Lobaton put up a .232/.319/.374 line with three doubles and three home runs in his third year with the Washington Nationals.
According to an announcement from the Nationals this afternoon, they have agreed to terms with Lobaton on a deal for 2017, avoiding arbitration.
Lobaton earned $1,387,500 last season after he and the Nats avoided arbitration by agreeing on a 1-year deal on December 2nd.
MLBTraderumors.com projected a $1.6M deal for Lobaton this season if he had gone to arbitration. No word this afternoon on what the catcher’s contract for 2017 will pay him.
Lobaton and fellow catcher Pedro Severino were pressed into action when catcher Wilson Ramos was injured late last season and the veteran backstop came up big, hitting a three-run home run in the Nationals’ Game 2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS.
The big hit prompted this humorous exchange between Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker and reporters in the postgame press conference in the nation’s capital — which we’ll include here just to make this article a little longer (and because we never used it during the NLDS):
Reporter: Just to follow that up, [Lobaton] is really well-liked within the team. Can you give any one or two anecdotes or stories or something that tells people what he's like, because he really isn't known that well.
DUSTY BAKER: Well, Lobi is a fun-loving guy. He stays ready all the time. You know, he mocks me all the time. And you know --
DUSTY BAKER: Well, I tell the guys to use your legs, and Lobi is like -- he'll chirp like, next week, ‘Use your legs.’ Or I'll say, ‘Keep your head down.’ Or I'll say, ‘Bobby, look at me,’ the third base coach.
I don't think he's listening, but he's a character because he's repeating everything -- he's repeating everything that I said (chuckling). He's funny.
He'll say, "Concentrate, concentrate."
And I tell him, "Concentrate."
But he's like, "Concentrate, concentrate." Lobi's fun to be around.
Will the Nationals still add a catcher this winter that Lobaton will back up?
Will they stick with Lobi and Severino, even though the young catcher is relatively unproven?