Rays trade Jose Lobaton to Nationals for Nate Karns

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The rumored trade between Tampa Bay and Washington is a reality, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays have traded catcher Jose Lobaton and two unnamed minor leaguers to the Nationals for pitching prospect Nate Karns.

Lobaton became expendable following the Rays’ trade for Ryan Hanigan earlier this offseason and he’ll join the Nationals as a backup for Wilson Ramos. Washington has spent all winter acquiring potential backup catchers, so they clearly felt having a reliable option behind Ramos on the depth chart was very important. Lobaton is a 29-year-old career .228 hitter with a .654 OPS.

Karns made his MLB debut last season at age 25 after throwing 133 innings with a 3.26 ERA and impressive 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings at Double-A. For his career he has 362 strikeouts in 304 innings as a minor leaguer and the Rays are always looking to add young pitching to keep things churning despite low payrolls. Baseball America recently named Karns as the ninth-best prospect in the Nationals’ farm system.

Marlins intend to keep Christian Yelich

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With Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna gone, the next logical step for the Marlins would be to trade away Christian Yelich. He’s be an amazingly attractive trade candidate given that he is under team control through 2022, and is owed a very reasonable $58 million or so. He just turned 26 last week and has hit .290/.369/.432 in his five year career. That’s the kind of player and contract that could bring back a mess of prospects.

Except the Marlins, it seems, don’t want to do that. Multiple reports have come out in the last hour saying that the Marlins intend to hold on to Yelich and to build around him.

That could be a negotiating ploy, of course. They’ll no doubt listen to offers and, if the right one comes along, they’d certainly give strong consideration to trading him. A good deal is a good deal.

The only question, in light of the events of the last week, is whether the Marlins would know a good deal if they saw one.