The final day of MLB's Winter Meetings kicked off with the Rule 5 draft. With two spots open on the 40 man roster, it was thought the Tigers would be active. They were, but but not in the actual drafting of players.
The Tigers had the 20th pick in the draft, but both players they had targeted were snapped up within the first ten picks. Rather than move on, the Tigers acted quickly with a pair of transactions.
The Red Sox selected Nationals 2nd baseman Jeff Kobernus 7th overall. Kobernus was then traded to Tigers for IF/OFJustin Henry.
With the 10th pick. The Mets drafted left-handed starting pitcher Kyle Lobstein from the Rays. The Mets then flipped Lobstein to the the Tigers for cash considerations.
The Tigers also lost a pair of left-handed pitchers and picked up an outfielder in the Triple A phase of the Rule 5 draft. The Cardinals took 25 year old Jay Voss, who spent the last 2 seasons at Double A Erie. The Bule Jays selected Efrain Nieves, a 22 year old the Tigers signed as a free agent last year and played for the Single A short season Connecticut Tigers. The Tigers selected 23 year old right-hand hitting outfielder Eliezer Mesa from the Athletics.
This is what the Tigers had to tell us about the 24 year old Kobernus:
Kobernus,hit .282 (93x330) with 10 doubles, two triples, a home run, 19 RBI and 42 stolen bases in 82 games with Double A Harrisburg in the Washington Nationals organization during the 2012 season. He led the Eastern League with 42 stolen bases.
Originally selected by Washington in the second round of the 2009 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, he has batted .279 (327x1172) with 51 doubles, six triples, nine home runs, 115 RBI and 120 stolen bases in 290 games during four seasons at the minor league level.
Dave Dombrowski considers the athletic Kobernus to be "a hard-nosed character guy."
Jason Beck reports the Tigers expect Kobernus to compete for an infield utility role and possibly play some outfield. In other words, Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth have been put on notice.
Here's the scoop on Lobstein:
Lobstein, 23, compiled an 8-7 record with a 4.06 ERA (144.0 IP/65 ER) and 129 strikeouts in 27 starts with Double A Montgomery in the Tampa Bay Rays organization during the 2012 season. He finished second in the Southern League with 129 strikeouts.
Originally selected by Tampa Bay in the second round of the 2009 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, he has posted a 30-30 record, 3.85 ERA (497.2 IP/213 ER) and 427 strikeouts in 92 outings (91 starts) in four seasons at the minor league level.
The Tigers been on the prowl for a left-handed reliever, so finding one in the Rule 5 draft is no surprise. Dombrowski believes Lobstein to be both rotation protection and will compete with Darin Downs and Duane Below to be the 2nd lefty out of the bullpen.
Henry is a 27 year old IF/OF with little power. Henry bounced between Double A Erie and Triple A Toledo in 2010-11. He spent the entire 2012 season with the Mud Hens, hitting .300/.372/.357 with 1 home run, 38 RBI and 22 stolen bases.
Though the Tigers didn't draft Kobernus and Lobstein, their status remains the same as Rule 5 players. If the Tigers want to keep either player, they must be kept on the 25 man major league roster for the entire 2013 season. If they decide to not retain them on the big league roster, the Tigers have to offer the players back to their original team for $25K or negotiate a trade.