Rays rumors: Jose Lobaton to White Sox trade in the works?

J. Meric

With Ryan Hanigan now in the fold for the next three years, Tampa Bay has an extra catcher to dangle as trade bait.

The Tampa Bay Rays are reportedly working on a deal that would send catcher Jose Lobaton to the Chicago White Sox, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. It is unknown what kind of return the Rays are seeking.

Lobaton, 29, appears to be the odd man out in St. Pete now that the Rays have not only acquired veteran backstop Ryan Hanigan from the Reds, but have also awarded him with a three-year extension. With Hanigan and fellow framing savant Jose Molina in tow for at least the next two seasons, Lobaton goes from being the top catcher on the team's depth chart to a trading chip.

For the White Sox, the addition of Lobaton would give the team some much-needed depth behind the plate. The switch-hitting Venezuelan doesn't provide much in the way of pop -- he hit .249/.320/.394 in 311 plate appearances last year -- but even that line would be a huge upgrade for Chicago. Five South Side catchers combined to hit just .196/.238/.325 in 2013, the worst mark in the American League by 15 points of OPS.

Lobaton made roughly the league minimum in 2013 is entering his first year of arbitration as a Super-Two player this winter, so he should be a fairly cheap acquisition salary-wise. Should he end up heading to Chicago, he'd likely share time at catcher with Tyler Flowers, to whom the ChiSox tendered a $900,000 contract on Monday.

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