VIERA, Fla. (AP) — The Washington Nationals filled the last clear-cut need on their roster on the opening day of spring training, acquiring catcher Jose Lobaton and two prospects from the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday for pitcher Nathan Karns.
Lobaton gives the Nationals insurance behind fellow Venezuelan Wilson Ramos, who has never played in more than 108 games in a season because of various injuries.
"He's a capable backup," general manager Mike Rizzo said, "in case something does happen with Wilson."
Lobaton, 29, started 76 games for the Rays last season and batted .249 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs. He was expendable because the Rays re-signed catcher Jose Molina and traded for Ryan Hanigan.
Rizzo said Lobaton has above average metrics on defense. A notable exception is a 16 percent success rate throwing out would-be base-stealers.
"We feel that he throws well enough that he should be better than 16 percent," Rizzo said.
It speaks volumes about the Nationals' confidence in their talent-laden roster that a move for a backup can fill the last significant hole on the day that pitchers and catchers reported. Barring injury, Rizzo won't be shopping during spring training.