Normally a team that selects a player in Major League Baseball's Rule 5 draft is looking to add talent to a talent-depleted system. It's not often a team with World Series aspirations adds a Rule 5 player.
And yet on Thursday the Tigers added not one, but TWO players in the Rule 5 draft.
Detroit acquired 2B Jeff Kobernus in a deal with Boston, which selected Kobernus out of the Washington system. The Tigers sent IF-OF Justin Henry to the Red Sox to acquire Kobernus.
Detroit also acquired LHP Kyle Lobstein in a deal with the New York Mets, who selected Lobstein from the Tampa Bay organization. The Tigers received Lobstein for cash considerations.
Rule 5 stipulates that the Tigers must keep both Kobernus and Lobstein on the roster for the entire 2013 season, or return those players to their original organization for $25,000 -- half of the original claiming price. Henry will not return to the organization regardless what happens with Kobernus.
Let's look at Kobernus, who last season played for Washington's Double-A team in the Eastern League, Harrisburg. Kobernus, who stands 6-2 and weighs 210, hit .282 with one home run and 19 RBIs in 82 games.
His time with the Senators was limited by a thumb injury in May and a rib injury that ended his season in late July. Despite playing in just 82 games, Kobernus stole 42 bases.
Kobernus is a candidate for a reserve role on the infield, although his professional experience is almost exclusively at second base (he has played shortstop briefly, and the Tigers have talked about giving him time in the outfield).
Click here to read about the intense nature of Kobernus.
Lobstein spent last season as a starter for Tampa Bay's Double-A Montgomery team in the Southern League. Lobstein made 27 starts for the Biscuits and posted an 8-7 record with a 4.06 ERA. Lobstein allowed 140 hits and 69 walks in 144 innings with Montgomery while fanning 129.
Lobstein, who is 23 years old and stands 6-3 while weighing 200 pounds, finished second in the Southern League in strikeouts and was third in walks.
Lobstein's won-loss record in 2012 is deceptive, since he had six quality starts where he did not win, including five where he gave up one run or less. He made one playoff start for the Biscuits and gave up seven hits and two walks while fanning seven in a no-decision against Mobile.
The loss of Henry to the Red Sox will be a blow to Toledo, as the Mud Hens profited from his versatility and his hitting ability.
Last season Henry hit .300 to rank seventh in the International League in that category. He finished with one home run, 38 RBIs and 72 runs scored to rank sixth in the league. Henry also led the Hens with 22 stolen bases.
Defensively Henry played second base, third base, and all three outfield positions for Toledo.
UPDATE: Dec. 6, 10:30 p.m.: The minor-league phase of the Rule 5 draft saw the Tigers add one player and lose two minor leaguers.
In the first round of the Triple-A portion of the draft, Detroit selected OF Eliezer Mesa from Oakland. In the second round of the draft the Tigers lost LHP Jay Voss to the Cardinals, and in the third round the Blue Jays selected LHP Efrain Nieves.
Let's look at Mesa first. Originally signed as nondrafted free agent by Rockies in November of 2007 out of the Dominican Republic, Mesa did not play above Hi-A before the Rockies traded him to Oakland in September of 2011 to complete the Mark Ellis trade. His best season came with Lo-A Asheville in the South Atlantic League, where he hit .302 with a pair of homers, 42 RBIs and 29 stolen bases in 117 games.
Last season Mesa, who turned 24 in November, played at three levels with the Athletics. He began the year at Hi-A Stockton in the California League and struggled, batting .130 with no homers, three RBIs and four stolen bases in 13 games. He was demoted to Lo-A Burlington in the Midwest League and hit .290 with four homers, 33 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 70 games.
At the end of July Mesa was promoted to Double-A Midland and again struggled at the plate, batting .179 with no homers, 17 RBIs and one stolen base in 18 games.
He seems targeted to begin 2013 in either Lakeland or Erie.
LHP Jay Voss saw limited action in 2012, making just three starts for Erie (0-3, 6.10 ERA) before having season-ending Tommy John surgery. The best season for Voss, who will turn 26 next April, came in 2011, when he was 3-0 with a 3.21 ERA in eight games for Lakeland to earn a promotion to Erie, where he went 9-7 with a 3.67 ERA in 19 starts with the SeaWolves.
LHP Efrain Nieves was one of the 19 players signed as a min0r-league free agent by the Tigers in late November. Nieves, who turned 23 in November, has not pitched above Hi-A ball in six professional seasons. Last year he was a reliever for the Tigers' Short Season team in Connecticut, where he was 4-1 with three saves and a 2.79 ERA.