When the Boston Red Sox signed Lyle Overbay to a minor league contract, many people asked why. Why sign a veteran first baseman, who by all accounts, is on the downside of his career? Why sign him after the Red Sox just signed Mike Napoli to a big contract? Why when the Red Sox have two prospects already slated in at first?
With the signing, the Red Sox gave themselves a veteran left-handed hitting first baseman as an insurance policy for Napoli. Napoli, who has a condition called avascular necrosis in his hips (a degenerative disease), has been, as recently as today, restricted from impact field drills. He will be re-evaluated at a later date, possibly as early as Thursday. The latest on Napoli makes even more sense for the Red Sox and Overbay.
Overbay was signed to a minor league contract, with an invitation to this year’s spring training. According to sources, Overbay has an opt-out if he does not make the major league club. So where is the risk for the Red Sox? If he is the Lyle Overbay of seasons past- a career .270 hitter with an OPS of .791 in 1324 MLB games, then both sides win.
One thing that few take into consideration is the fact that Overbay is an asset in the clubhouse, a team guy that people love being around, on all accounts. And, in a Red Sox clubhouse rife with issues, undermining and accusations, that would be a very welcome addition.
There are very few reasons not to like about this signing. On the one side is a solid LH hitting first baseman with proven valuable MLB experience who is looking for a fresh start. On the other is a team in need of a stable, veteran backup first baseman. They got a guy with a decent bat, solid fielding and a good to great guy in the clubhouse. And if it doesn’t work out, neither side is any the worse for wear.
I say- why not?