Jose Lobaton has found a new home, but the Nationals’ longtime backup catcher will be staying in the National League East.
Lobaton has signed a minor league contract with the Mets, who will offer him an invitation to big league camp next spring and a chance to make their opening day roster.
The 33-year-old spent the last four seasons as the Nationals’ No. 2 catcher, backing up Wilson Ramos and later Matt Wieters. Known more for his work behind the plate than at the plate, Lobaton struggled in both areas this season, hitting a career-worst .170 with a .525 OPS while finishing with a WAR of minus-1.0.
A free agent for the first time, Lobaton knew he was unlikely to be re-signed by the Nationals, who are trying to get more production from the catching position after Wieters also struggled at the plate. He wound up landing with the Mets, where he’ll likely compete with Kevin Plawecki for the backup job behind Travis d’Arnaud.
Acquired along with reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league outfielder Drew Vettleson in a February 2014 trade with the Rays for right-hander Nate Karns, Lobaton appeared in 200 games for the Nationals over four seasons, hitting .210 with 12 homers, 51 RBIs and a .588 OPS.