When asked if the Red Sox front office had any more moves left in them, Ben Cherington said there were a couple more which needed to be made. The Red Sox were, and likely still are toying with the idea of giving Ryan Sweeney and/or Daniel Nava some playing time at first base. Just in case that didn’t work, however, they’ve signed Lyle Overbay to a minor league contract today. The deal is for an undisclosed amount and includes an invite to spring training for the veteran first baseman.
Overbay, entering his 13th major league season, is not a starter anymore by any means. However, with his experience, solid defense, and left-handed bat, he could be the perfect complement to Mike Napoli. In 65 games between Arizona and Atlanta last year, he hit just .259/.331/.397. That’s likely to be all the Red Sox would need from Overbay as an occasional contributor, although things could get a bit messy if Napoli was injured for an extended amount of time.
Even though he was only signed to a minor league deal, it’s quite likely that Overbay will start or spend much of the year in the majors. Unless one counts Sweeney or Nava, neither of whom has ever played a game at first base, as a first baseman, there’s nobody else on the roster save for Mauro Gomez who can play the position. Plus, assuming Ryan Lavarnway and Ryan Sweeney start the season with Triple-A Pawtucket, the Red Sox have an open bench spot to hold for Overbay.
It’s hard to criticize and easy to praise little depth moves. This signing exhibits both cases. Even if Overbay is a bust, it’s a minor league signing and doesn’t even affect the major league payroll. He’s unlikely to put up big numbers, but if he can just do what he did last season in limited playing time, he should be a solid pickup. In all luck, though, we’ll see Overbay as a bench player tops.