Nats Trade Karns For Lobaton, et al

So Long
RHP Nathan Karns was dealt away today to the Tampa Bay Rays for backup catcher Jose Lobaton, LHP Felipe Rivero, and OF Drew Vettleson. The move is expected to put an end to one of the few position battles this spring and clouding the future for a pair of longtime backstops, Jhonatan Solano and Sandy Leon, who both have one option left.

To make room on the 40-man roster, RHP Erik Davis was placed on the 60-man DL with what Washington officials are calling an elbow sprain.

Karns (2012) also becomes the sixth minors’ player or pitcher of the year to be traded since GM Mike Rizzo assumed the helm in 2009, following Derek Norris (2009), Tommy Milone (2010), Brad Peacock and Steve Lombrdozzi (2011), and Billy Burns (2013). (Perhaps the award should be nicknamed Kemmerich’s Cleats?)

Rivero was signed as an IFA in 2008 out of Venezuela and was ranked as Tampa Bay’s #17 prospect overall in the 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook. He was 9-7 in 23 starts with pitcher’s line of 3.40/3.88/1.37 for High-A Charlotte (FL) in the (usually) pitcher-friendly Florida State League.

He works off a 91-94 FB and features a sharp 12-6 curve and changeup. Both BA and this guy have noted that he has trouble maintaining his speed, which could signal a move to the bullpen. BA was projecting him to pitch for AA Montgomery, so the logical extension is a ticket to Harrisburg this summer.

Vettleson is a 2010 HS pick (1st Rd., supplemental) out of Silverdale, WA and has moved up steadily in his first three years, progressing from advanced rookie Princeton in 2011 to Low-A Bowling Green in 2012 to High-A Charlotte in 2013. He suffered a bit of a power outage in FSL, which both BA and Sickels attributed to issues with plate discipline.

Defensively, Vettleson’s arm is considered above-average but his footwork is considered substandard. Like Rivero, Vettleson was considered on track to play at AA Montgomery, which could force either Caleb Ramsey or Randolph Oduber to repeat Potomac.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

14 thoughts on “Nats Trade Karns For Lobaton, et al”

  1. Now that Rizzo got two solid prospects along with the backup catcher he desired, I think he can consider losing this year’s first round pick to sign Ervin Santana if the price drops enough. Go for the championship this year while it is in reach!

    1. Is Santana really an upgrade? He came through with a big year last season but he is very inconsistent. I guess like you said if the price drops enough. I think I would go for Jiminez if it came to it though.

      1. And I’d still like to see them acquire Jason Castro for T-Mo + prospects. But depth is such an issue perhaps this is out of the question. And I’d still like to see them acquire a guy like Sean Doolittle if its possible. I think having a left-handed closer type is far more critical than Ervin Santana as a #5 starter given all of the possibilities they still have for that slot. Plus? What happens if Giolito marches through the minors ala’ Stras? They have to keep a slot open of that guy …

  2. Luke. Good call. Ramsey makes Potomac matched with the
    Hagerstown 2013 core rather worth going out to. The park
    Rivero probably joins up with Grace in sens pen?
    Lippencott does not have to be pushed.
    Now we could even venture possible number one picks
    For Nats this coming June ? RHP out of Fresno State or USC??
    Karns could have been a year ahead of
    Barrett and Benincasa. ?? We live the Casa!!!

    1. You appear to have some suspicion that Rizzo looks at Rivero as his left-handed-closer-type to be? If he pitches as the closer out of the Harrisburg pen and is on the 40-man would they call him up if he does well?

  3. Great info for seamheads on a snowy nite. Even have a 8 minute video of Rivera to boot. I ‘d be curious of what you scouts think of how he finishes his delivery.
    Were both guys put on the 40 man? If they were out of options, that would explain why Tampa Bay was willing to give them both up.
    If Oduber stays again at Potomac, that means his days as a prospect are over.

    1. Mark, neither of them are out of options. Vettleson is not on the 40 man roster yet. Rivero was just added to protect him from the rule 5 draft. He will use his first option this season and Vettleson has all of his options remaining.

      1. Imagine next offseason when AJ Cole, Brian Goodwin, Matt Skole, Drew Vettleson, Pedro Severino and Blake Treinen will all be rule 5 eligible. That’ll be interesting for sure. The first three will probably even see some September action this season.

        Interesting to note that has Vettleson at 11 and Rivero at 15 on the Nats list, while Karns checks in at 8 for the Rays.

        1. Yes, and then add the Giolito factor. What happens if he performs as many scouts project he will? He could create some turnover chaos on more than one minor league pitching rotation this season?

      2. The Rule 5 option is irrelevant, since you don’t have to do that until December. Rivero was on the 40 man probably because he had reached 6 years as a 16 year old signee.

        1. I was referring to Tampa just placing him on the 40 man ahead of the rule 5 draft that just happened. That is why he hasn’t burned an option yet.

  4. Agree PDowdy that Santana would likely not be an upgrade, especially over a healthy Detwiler. (assumimg he can stay healthy). Also agree with Peric that another ‘good’ lefty reliever is the Nat’s main priority at this point. I don’t think Doolittle would be available but what about Wilson from Pittsburgh?

  5. will be interesting to see in the next 18 mths or so how Rizzo juggles the assets getting more $ at the mlb level coupled with the assets in the minors running out of options/becoming rule 5 eligible. This time next year, it will be about time for another 5 for 1 swap to clear out numbers – nice place to be in.

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