Lobaton trade nearing? RHP Karns could be return
The Rays have been talking for months about trading C Jose Lobaton, and may be close to a deal with the Nationals.
The teams have been talking again, and a potential deal would send Lobaton to Washington and RHP Nate Karns to the Rays, with other players likely to be involved.
Karns is 26, having made three starts last year for the Nats (0-1, 7.50) while doing 10-6, 3.26 at AA Harrisburg. He was a 12th-round pick in 2009 out of Texas Tech.
Adding starting pitching would make sense for the Rays, with RHP Jeremy Hellickson to be sidelined into at least May following Jan. 29 elbow surgery.
Lobaton started 76 games for the Rays last season, but became expendable when they re-signed veteran Jose Molina and traded for Ryan Hanigan.
Here is a Baseball America scouting report on Karns:
Background: Karns recovered from a torn labrum to jump back onto the prospect landscape in 2012, leading the minor leagues in opponent average (.174) in his full-season debut. He followed that up with a strong season in the Double-A Eastern League. Karns made his big league debut in May but was sent back down to Harrisburg after struggling in three starts. He really found his groove upon his return to the EL, posting a 2.57 ERA the rest of the way.
Scouting Report: Physical and aggressive, Karns attacks hitters with a 91-95 mph power sinker, peaking at 98 on occasion. He has a second plus pitch in his wipeout hammer curveball, which ranges from 82-85 mph. He's still learning to throw the curve for strikes, but he excels at getting hitters to chase it. Karns also has a below-average changeup at 83-85 mph, but his feel for it increased marginally in 2013. He has a long arm action and a stiff front leg, leading to just fair command, though he does throw strikes with his fastball.
The Future: Unless Karns can make significant strides with his command and his third pitch, he profiles best as a big league set-up man. He'll enter 2014 as a 26-year-old in Triple-A, where he will continue to work as a starte