Rays trade Jose Lobaton for Nationals' pitcher Nathan Karns

5:03 PM, Feb 13, 2014   |    comments
  • Washington Nationals starting pitcher Nathan Karns (57) throws against the St. Louis Cardinals during the top of the fifth inning of a spring training game at Space Coast Stadium. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
  • Sep 18, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Lobaton (59) points to the dugout after he singled during the twelfth inning against the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Texas Rangers 4-3 in twelve inning. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- The Tampa Bay Rays announced Thursday they've traded catcher Jose Lobaton, left-handed pitcher Felipe Rivero and outfielder Drew Vettleson for the Nationals' right-handed pitcher Nathan Karns.

Lobaton thanked Rays fans on Twitter after the news came out Thursday saying, "It is very difficult to say Goodbye to all of you since you were always very supportive of me...will always cherish that. Thanks for everything."

Karns, 26, spent the majority of the 2013 season with Double-A Harrisburg, going 10-6 with a 3.26 ERA (132.2-IP, 48-ER) and 155 strikeouts in 23 starts. Karns also made three starts with the Nationals, including his major league debut on May 28 vs. Baltimore.  Following the season, he was ranked by ESPN.com's Keith Law as the No. 4 prospect in the Nationals system, and by Baseball America as the organization's No. 9 prospect.

Karns was a 12th-round pick in the 2009 June Draft out of Texas Tech University and he did not pitch professionally until 2011 due to right shoulder surgery.

Rivero, 22, spent the 2013 season with Class-A Charlotte and led the team with career highs in games started (23), innings pitched (127) and wins (nine). The lefthander is 29-25 with a 3.45 ERA (386-IP, 148-ER) and 315 strikeouts over five career minor league seasons. Following the season, he was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 17 prospect in the Rays system.

Vettleson, 22, hit .274 (128-for-467) with four home runs and 62 RBI for Charlotte in 2013, leading the Stone Crabs in hits while ranking second in RBI.  The former first-round selection (42nd overall) in the 2010 June Draft owns a career .276 batting average, 26 home runs and 171 RBI over three minor league seasons. Following the season, he was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 20 prospect in the Rays system.

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