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.

The Mariners have made an offer to bring back Hisashi Iwakuma

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Hisashi Iwakuma tells the Japan Times that the Mariners have made him an offer to return.

Iwakuma became a free agent earlier this month after the Mariners, not surprisingly, declined his $10 million option for 2018. Iwakuma says that it’s “not a done deal,” but “hopefully I will be able to make a positive announcement soon.”

Iwakuma, who turns 37 early next season, made only six starts in 2017, posting a 4.35 ERA, 3.5 BB/9 and 4.6 SO/9 over 31 innings. He went on the disabled list in May and never returned to action, undergoing arthroscopic debridement surgery in September. He hopes to be recovered fully by spring training.