Nationals talking to Rays about Jose Lobaton

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Washington’s spring training roster is packed with catchers, including starter Wilson Ramos and six backup options to evaluate, but apparently the Nationals are still looking for another backstop.

Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the Nationals are talking to the Rays about trading for Jose Lobaton, who became expendable in Tampa Bay following the addition of Ryan Hanigan.

Lobaton has been linked to several different teams since it became clear the Rays were trying to move him and Ladson says the Nationals have been working on a potential deal for a month now.

Last season Lobaton hit .249 with seven homers and a .714 OPS in a part-time role and the 29-year-old is a career .228 hitter with a .654 OPS.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.