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.

Mets are interested in Rick Porcello

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Jon Heyman reports that the Mets are interested in free agent pitcher Rick Porcello and have been speaking to his agent.

Porcello is coming off a pretty dreadful 2019 season in which he went 14-12 with a 5.52 ERA in 32 starts. That ERA was the worst in the majors among qualified starters. He’s also pretty homer happy. But (a) he’s durable; and (b) a change of scenery and a move to a more pitcher-friendly division and park might do him some good, so it’s not like he’s a bad guy for the Mets to be looking at. He’s only going to be 31 next season and he’s just a year removed from a decent season.

There are far worse bounceback candidates.