The Washington Nationals have completed a trade that will send right-handed pitcher Nate Karns to the Tampa Bay Rays for catcher Jose Lobaton, left-handed pitcher Felipe Rivero, and outfielder Drew Vettleson. The trade had been several weeks in the making, and Lobaton's fate in Tampa was largely cemented when the Rays re-signed Jose Molina and traded for Ryan Hanigan.
The Nationals had reportedly been looking for a catcher to provide some insurance in case the oft-injured Wilson Ramos lost time again this year. Lobaton is a switch hitter who has been better from the left side of the plate, and so he may be seen as a potential platoon player to the right-handed Ramos.
The Rays also included two prospects in the trade. Rivero was ranked by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo as the eighteenth best prospect in the Rays organization, and he is regarded as a potential bullpen arm by most scouts. Outfielder Vettleson is ranked the Rays' tenth best prospect, and he is considered an excellent defensive outfielder who needs to work on the intricacies of his offensive game.
The Nationals' end of the deal consisted of pitching prospect Nate Karns, who was ranked the fifth best player in the team's farm system. He made his major league debut this season. In three starts, he posted a 7.50 ERA, while allowing 5 home runs and 6 walks. Before that, he had started 23 games in Double-A.