Nov 18, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT
Age on Opening Day 2016: 31
How acquired: Trade with Rays, Feb. 2014
MLB service time: 4 years, 138 days
2015 salary+bonuses: $1.2 million
Contract status: Arbitration eligible, free agent in 2018
2015 stats: 44 G, 155 PA, 11 R, 27 H, 4 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 15 BB, 40 SO, .199 AVG, .279 OBP, .294 SLG, .573 OPS, 2 E, -0.3 WAR
2015 analysis: Jose Lobaton played in only 44 games in 2015 and there was a good reason for that. Primary catcher Wilson Ramos was finally able to stay healthy and caught a career-high 128 games, thus forcing Lobaton to take a reduced role.
Whether it was the sparse playing time or not, Lobaton did not have a very good year at the plate. He hit just .199 and didn’t even crack the .300 mark with his slugging percentage. Lobaton didn’t provide much of anything on offense for the Nationals this year, his second season with the team.
Lobaton was, however, pretty good on defense, at least when he worked with Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez’ ERA was 3.39 through 20 games with Lobaton, much lower than the 4.52 mark he had working with Ramos. Lobaton also drew positive reviews this season for his ability to frame pitches.
Basically, Lobaton was a seldom-needed backup this season who was much more valuable on defense than he was on offense.
2016 outlook: Lobaton is under contract for the 2016 season and as of now appears to be in the Nationals’ plans for next year. He is a valuable asset as an experienced No. 2 catcher and being a switch-hitter doesn’t hurt.
Lobaton’s future could come down to what the Nationals decide this offseason about Ramos as a starting catcher. He was a Gold Glove finalist and Mike Rizzo gave him a vote of confidence at the GM meetings last week. But Ramos did not have the season on offense many of us thought he was capable of if he stayed healthy. That puts catcher as a sort of wild card as a potential need this winter.
If the Nationals decide to upgrade at the catcher position – and whether that is even possible is unclear – that could certainly affect Lobaton. But for now he certainly appears to be safe as the Nats’ backup with Ramos as the starter ahead of him.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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