With Jose Molina and Ryan Hanigan behind the dish, Jose Lobaton is now expendable and the Rays could explore trading him, writes Mark Topkin for the Tampa Bay Times. Topkin adds that, given the vagaries of the game of baseball, they’ll likely bring Lobaton to spring training in case either of their catchers suffers an injury, but could trade him to a team in need of a back-up towards the end of March.
Lobaton, 29, was quite productive for the Rays last season, posting a .714 OPS in 311 plate appearances. He isn’t nearly as capable defensively as Molina, but his bat made up for what he lacked in curtailing base-stealers and framing pitches. Lobaton was one of 19 catchers last season to take at least 300 trips to the plate and finish with an OPS of .700 or better.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.