by Steve Carney / 620 WDAE
The Tampa Bay Rays bid adieu to catcher Jose Lobaton Thursday, trading him to the Washington Nationals along with a pair of minor-leaguers in exchange for pitcher Nathan Karns. However, executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says the team really didn't want to deal the catcher unless Karns was a part of the deal.
"Karns was the guy that we wanted to try and figure out a way to acquire," Friedman said. "We talked about numerous different scenarios; some that acquired him, some that didn't. Eventually, we got to the point where we were able to line up on something."
With the trade of Lobaton, who hit .249 / .320 / .394 with seven home runs and 32 RBI in 100 games in 2014, Tampa Bay has just two catchers on their 40-man roster (Ryan Hanigan and Jose Molina). In contrast, the Rays had five catchers on the 40-man roster going in to 2013 (Lobaton, Molina, Chris Gimenez, Stephen Vogt and Robinson Chirinos). It's a situation that Friedman said could concern him if an injury were to occur during the spring.
"I think we'd always like to have more depth, and it's something that we'll really lock in on during Spring Training," Friedman admitted. "But we have some guys at camp that we're really interested to watch compete, and then we'll have a better feel for that as we get through March."
Tampa Bay now has 63 players on the roster for Major League camp, which begins Friday when pitchers and catchers report to the team's Spring Training complex in Port Charlotte.
Listen to Friedman's conference call below!