DETROIT -- Kyle Lobstein went into the offseason as one of the Tigers' insurance starters in case of injury, a role he has filled capably the past couple of seasons. Instead, the lanky left-hander will go into Spring Training as a Pittsburgh Pirate, traded by Detroit on Monday for cash considerations.
The Tigers designated Lobstein's contract for assignment Friday night to make room for Mike Aviles on the 40-man roster. Detroit had 10 days to either trade, release or outright Lobstein to the Minor Leagues. An outright assignment would've hinged on Lobstein clearing waivers. Considering waivers go in reverse order of finish, he almost got through before being claimed by the team with baseball's second-best record in 2015.
Thus ends the Tigers tenure for Lobstein, who came to Detroit via the Rule 5 Draft three years ago. The Tigers traded catcher Curt Casali to Tampa Bay to acquire Lobstein's full rights, allowing him developmental time before making his Major League debut in the summer of 2014.
Lobstein went 1-2 with a 4.35 ERA in six starts and a long relief appearance in 2014, but he helped the Tigers avoid disaster with an injury-riddled pitching staff in August and September. Detroit went 4-2 in his starts, a stat that loomed big once the Tigers held off Kansas City by a single game for the American League Central title.
Lobstein's performance earned him first dibs at a rotation spot to begin this past season once Justin Verlander opened the 2015 campaign on the disabled list. He won three of his first five starts but struggled through May with what turned out to be left shoulder soreness. He rehabbed without the need for surgery and made it back as a September callup, but he struggled in three starts down the stretch.
For the season, the 26-year-old Lobstein went 3-8 with a 5.94 ERA, allowing 78 hits over 63 2/3 innings. He walked 23 batters and struck out 32. He was expected to compete with Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, Shane Greene and others for the fifth spot in the rotation in Spring Training, but he would've faced a difficult battle.
The move was the second subtraction of a Tigers pitcher. Detroit also sold the contract of right-hander Jake Brigham to the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan's Pacific League on Friday, a move that had been expected. The Tigers had signed Brigham to a Minor League contract a week earlier, but the Golden Eagles had expressed interest in bringing him over.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.