When Lyle Overbay was signed to a minor league deal in January, it was expected that he was going to be the team’s backup first baseman. However, the additions of Mike Carp through a trade with the Mariners and Daniel Nava‘s progress as a first baseman have muddled Overbay’s situation. He has become the forgotten man, and with the option to opt out of his contract on March 26, just two days away, the Red Sox will have to make a move soon or watch Overbay sign with another team in need of a first baseman like the Brewers or Yankees.
After a slow start to the spring, Overbay has turned things around at the plate. The 36 year old veteran is batting .222/.341/.361 to Mike Carp’s .194/.256/.306 slash line. However, spring training stats mean nothing and there’s always the issue of versatility when looking into bench players; versatility is not one of Overbay’s strong suits as he has played all 1222 games of his major league career at first base.
If the Red Sox want to work a bench of David Ross, Pedro Ciriaco, Daniel Nava, and Lyle Overbay, they could work around the lack of versatility. He does supply a decent bat, as he hit .259/.331/.397 with 2 home runs and 9 RBIs between the Diamondbacks and Braves last year– better than Carp’s 2012 slash line of .213/.312/.341 with the Mariners.
Ultimately, the Red Sox will have to decide soon about whether or not Overbay factors into their 2013 plans. Mike Carp is younger and has more upside, and his versatility gives him more value than Overbay. As the season approaches, the Red Sox have been playing less and less of these guys in an attempt to get their starters ready, meaning Overbay may not have many chances remaining to prove himself. He’ll have to take advantage of those to make the team, but things aren’t looking up for him right now.