Coming off a .282/.325/.333 year at Double-A Harrisburg in the Washington Nationals' system in 2012, in which he hit 10 doubles, two triples and a home run while stealing 42 bases over 82 games and 366 plate appearances, 24-year-old '09 2nd Round pick Jeff Kobernus was left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft this past December. The infielder was one of two Nats' prospects selected in the Major League phase of the Draft. The Red Sox took Kobernus and promptly traded him to the Tigers in return for IF/OF Justin Henry and the Colorado Rockies selected 25-year-old left-hander Danny Rosenbaum. Kobernus was returned to the Nationals today, after the defending American League champions decided he wouldn't make their Opening Day roster.
Teams that select players in the Rule 5 Draft are required to keep those players on their Major League roster throughout the season after they select them, or they have to return them to the team that lost the player.
In 21 Spring Training games with the Tigers, Kobernus was 11 for 50 with two triples, spending time in the outfield for the first time as a pro and he apparently impressed Detroit's brass. Tigers' GM Dave Dombroski reportedly tried to work out a trade with Washington before eventually deciding to return the right-handed hitting and throwing IF/OF to the Nationals. "Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said he attempted to work out a trade with the Nationals the last couple days," MLive.com's James Schmeml wrote this afternoon, "but the suggested asking price was too steep."
The GM is quoted in the article by Mr. Schmeml saying that Kobernus, "... really wasn't going to make our club. We just think a couple guys are ahead of him at this point,'" so they made the decision to send him back. Tigers' manager Jim Leyland said the same, telling the MLive.com reporter, "'He accounted for himself very well, but I think the biggest key here is -- as we speak -- that he wasn't going to make the team.'"
The #Nationals have accepted INF Jeff Kobernus back from DET, per Rule 5 guidelines.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) March 23, 2013
Kobernus will report to minor league camp.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) March 23, 2013
MLB.com's Bill Ladson (@washingnats) also reported this afternoon on several other moves the Nationals made to release players in their minor league camp: