Tigers acquire a pair from Rule 5 draft swaps
|[Erie catcher James McCann (middle) tags out Harrisburg's Jeff Kobernus (bottom) in a Double-A game last season. Acquired from the Red Sox after Thursday's Rule 5 draft, Kobernus may make it onto the Tigers' big-league roster before McCann does.]|
Detroit traded minor-league utility man Justin Henry to the Boston Red Sox for the rights to second baseman Jeff Kobernus, and sent cash to the Mets for the rights to left-hander Kyle Lobstein. Under the stipulations of the Rule 5 draft, the Tigers must keep the players on the 25-man big-league roster for the entire season, or offer him back to his original team for $25,000.
While in principle that seems a bit constricting for an organization trying to assemble a World Series-caliber roster, the moves themselves make sense, considering the Tigers' needs at the back end of the roster.
Drafted by the Sox out of the Nationals organization, the oft-injured Kobernus could give the Tigers a boost in athleticism at the utility spot. A .279 hitter in four minor-league seasons, the former third-round pick has compiled 120 stolen bases in 290 games, 95 in the last two years with the Nats' high-A and Double-A affiliates. With the ability and athleticism to play infield or outfield, Kobernus could replace the departed Don Kelly, or challenge Ramon Santiago or Danny Worth for a reserve infield spot.
"My agent Steve (Cantor) had called me and let me know it was a possibility (of getting picked), but I was trying not to think too much about it," Kobernus told Baseball America's John Manuel. "When he called this morning, I was excited. I was lucky and happy to be part of the Nationals organization, but going to the Tigers, a team that's been waiting for years to win a World Series and that expects to win every year, I'm just excited to be a part of that."