DETROIT -- The Tigers completed a minor swap of relievers on Wednesday, sending displaced setup man Denny Bautista to Pittsburgh for Minor League right-hander Kyle Pearson.
The Tigers had designated Bautista for assignment last Friday to make room for Joel Zumaya to come off the 15-day disabled list. Detroit had 10 days to try to trade him or outright him to the Minors if he had cleared waivers.
Instead, the Tigers received something in return for Bautista, who will move on to his sixth organization in as many years as he tries to translate his upper-90s fastball and sometimes devastating breaking ball into a permanent spot in the big leagues.
Bautista came to Detroit from Colorado for Jose Capellan in what was essentially a Winter Meetings swap of relievers who were out of Minor League options. It was an obscure deal once the Tigers finalized their trade for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis hours later, but the move looked like a success once Bautista opened the season as the Tigers' primary setup man with Zumaya and Fernando Rodney injured.
Bautista has bounced from team to team over the last few years with the same appeal, a gifted arm with inconsistent command. He commanded the fastball in Spring Training, and the results were impressive.
By mid-April, however, that control started to wane. He walked the bases loaded and hit another batter during a late April outing against the Yankees, and he landed on the disabled list soon after that with right shoulder tendinitis. That created an opportunity for Freddy Dolsi to make the jump from Double-A Erie and take the ball in late-inning situations.
Once Bautista returned from the DL early this month, his chances were limited. He had pitched in just three games in June, mostly in long relief. The 27-year-old finished with an 0-1 record and 3.32 ERA in 16 appearances, allowing 15 hits over 19 innings with 14 walks and 10 strikeouts.
Pearson, a fourth-round pick selected by the Pirates in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, split the season between Class A Lynchburg in the Carolina League and Double-A Altoona in the Eastern League. The 23-year-old has a combined 1-1 record and 6.85 ERA in 16 appearances between the two levels, allowing 26 hits over 22 1/3 innings with 16 walks and 15 strikeouts. He was a midseason All-Star last year in the low Class A South Atlantic League for Hickory, where he went 1-3 with five saves and a 3.43 ERA in 23 games.
The Tigers have not announced where Pearson will be assigned.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.