Nationals, Rays complete Karns for Lobaton swap

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The teams have been discussing a deal for weeks, and finally got it done on Thursday.

The Washington Nationals have agreed to acquire catcher Jose Lobaton, left-hander Felipe Rivero and an outfielder Drew Vettleson from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for right-hander Nathan Karns, according to baseball sources with knowledge of the situation. The deal has been officially announced by the teams.

Lobaton, 29, has been the subject of serious trade rumors for most of the offseason, with the Nationals having interest since the Winter Meetings in December. He became expendable once the Rays acquired Ryan Hanigan and re-signed Jose Molina this winter, and drew interest from multiple teams who were looking for catching depth.

Lobaton, who hit .249 with 7 HR and 32 RBI in 100 games for the Rays last season, will serve as the backup to Wilson Ramos in Washington. Ramos reiterated to reporters on Thursday that he expected to catch 130-135 games this season.

Rivero, 22, was 9-7 with a 3.40 ERA in 25 games (23 starts) for High-A Charlotte last season, in his fifth year with the Rays' organization. He was ranked as the 17th best prospect in the team's system after the season by Baseball America, and has a career 3.45 ERA in the minor leagues. He will likely pitch at Double-A for Triple-A next season for the Nationals, and will be on their 40-man roster.

Vettleson, 22, was the 42nd overall pick in the 2010 draft and spent last season with High-A Charlotte. The outfielder hit .274 with 4 HR and 62 RBI, leading to Baseball America ranking him as the Rays' 20th best prospect. In 2012, Vettleson hit .275 with 15 HR and 69 RBI with Single-A Bowling Green.

Karns, 26, was ranked by Baseball America as the Nationals' ninth best prospect after last season, in which he posted a 7.50 ERA in three starts at the major league level. In 23 starts with Triple-A Syracuse, the former 12th round pick posted a 10-6 record with a 3.26 ERA, 10.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. For more on Karns, be sure tothis detailed profile from Patrick Reddington at Federal Baseball.

MLB.com's Bill Ladson first reported the deal, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times was first to report that the deal was a three-for-one swap, and Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post was first to note Karns' involvement.

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