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Rays continue talks to deal Lobaton to Nationals

ST. PETERSBURG — With the opening of spring training days away, the Rays were working Wednesday on a trade to send extra catcher Jose Lobaton to Washington.

If the deal is completed, the return would be right-hander Nate Karns, a 26-year-old who made three big-league starts last year (0-1, 7.50) after going 10-6, 3.26 at Double-A Harrisburg. Karns was rated the Nationals' ninth-best prospect by Baseball America.

At least two other players are believed to be in the deal, potentially minor-leaguers going to Washington.

Lobaton said Wednesday night that he had not heard anything besides media reports, and he still planned to travel from his Orlando-area home to Port Charlotte to report with Rays pitchers and catchers at camp on Friday.

Lobaton, 29, who started 76 games last season, became expendable when the Rays re-signed Jose Molina and acquired Ryan Hanigan in the offseason. He can't be sent directly to the minors without going through waivers since he is out of options.

Acquiring an advanced pitching prospect would make sense as the Rays seek to add rotational depth with Jeremy Hellickson sidelined until at least mid May after elbow surgery.

Around the majors

PHILS GAIN ONE, LOSE ONE: On the day Cole Hamels announced he won't be ready for the season opener, the Phillies helped their ailing starting rotation. Right-hander A.J. Burnett, 37, agreed to a one-year contract worth $16 million, the Associated Press reported. He should give the Phillies a formidable top three along with left-hander Cliff Lee, if Hamels is healthy. Hamels, 30, said in Clearwater that he has left biceps tendinitis, but the left-hander expects to pitch in April.

FREGOSI HOSPITALIZED: Jim Fregosi, former major-leaguer and longtime Tampa Bay area resident, suffered a stroke while on a cruise with Major League Baseball alumni and has been hospitalized in the Cayman Islands, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Fregosi's family is trying to transport him to a hospital in Miami. Fregosi, 71, has worked in the Braves front office for the past 13 years.

SCHILLING HEALING: Curt Schilling's daughter said the former pitcher is recovering from cancer surgery, espn.com reported. Schilling, 47, announced last week that he is battling cancer.

SUSPENSION: Tigers minor-league catcher Ronny Paulino, who has played eight seasons in the majors, was suspended for 100 games for a second violation of baseball's drug policy.

MARINERS: Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma will not throw for four to six weeks because of an injury to his right middle finger. … Catcher Jesus Montero, looking visibly nervous, apologized to teammates and fans as he reported for the first time since receiving a 50-game PED-related suspension.

METS: Right-hander Jose Valverde, 35, a three-time All-Star closer who struggled last season, agreed to a minor-league deal.

ROYALS: All-Star closer Greg Holland agreed to a one-year contract worth $4,675,000, avoiding arbitration.

YANKEES: Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka finished his first throwing session with the team at the spring complex in Tampa. Pitching coach and former Rays manager Larry Rothschild said Tanaka "looked good" during a long toss session.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

Rays continue talks to deal Lobaton to Nationals 02/12/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 13, 2014 12:08am]

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