Nationals acquire Jose Lobaton from Rays in 4-player deal

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

Jose Lobaton is spreading his wings and flying to the Nats. (USATSI)
Jose Lobaton is spreading his wings and flying to the Nats. (USATSI)

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The Nationals have acquired catcher Jose Lobaton and two players to be named from the Rays in exchange for right-hander Nate Karns. The Nats also receive minor-league lefty Felipe Rivera and minor-league outfielder Drew Vettleson in the deal.

The switch-hitting Lobaton, age 29, is coming off a 2013 season for the Rays in which he batted .249/.320/.394 (100 OPS+) with seven homers in 311 plate appearances and 713 2/3 defensive innings behind the plate. For his career, he owns an OPS+ of 84 across parts of four major-league seasons. He'll make $900,000 this season and serve as backup to starter Wilson Ramos.

Rivera, 22, posted a 3.40 ERA in 127 innings at the High-A level last season. Vettleson, also 22, batted .274/.331/.388 with four home runs last season, also at the High-A level.

Karns is a 26-year-old starter who in 2013 logged a 7.50 ERA for the Nationals, albeit across just 13 innings. For his minor-league career, Karns owns a 2.66 ERA and 2.83 K/BB ratio in 60 games, 54 of which have been starts. Earlier this offseason, Baseball America ranked Karns as the ninth-best prospect in the Nationals system.

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