Going into Spring Training, the Boston Red Sox had a problem at first base, with Mike Napoli‘s health looking like it could be a potential liability throughout the year.
They thought they’d fixed it with Lyle Overbay, who was signed to a one-year, minor league deal to win a job as the primary backup.
Then, they fixed it again, by acquiring a better option: Mike Carp, the 26-year old who was the odd man out on the Seattle Mariners, and designated for assignment this week.
By all accounts, the 36-year old veteran has been more than understanding about the team bringing in Carp. Overbay will go through Spring Training as normal, competing for a job in Boston knowing that he won’t have the inside track, and that he’s not exactly what the team is looking for.
That wouldn’t be the case in Milwaukee, however, where the first baseman could be exactly what the Milwaukee Brewers need:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 20, 2013
You see, The Brewers also have a problem at first base: they don’t have a first baseman. Not after Corey Hart underwent knee surgery and January and is not expected back until at least the end of April, and that’s only in the brightest of optimistic outlooks.
Former top prospect Mat Gamel would have replaced him, but that won’t happen either, as a result of him tearing the ACL in his right knee for the second time.
Enter Overbay, a former fan favourite from 2004-2005 in Milwaukee, where the first baseman also had arguably his two finest seasons in the major leagues.
That was a long time ago, and a homecoming likely won’t help Overbay turn back the clock; but, it will help the Brewers’ rather dire situation at first until Hart is ready, at which point Overbay could simply return to the backup role that he is best suited for.
All they might have to do is wait. Overbay’s $1.25 million minor league deal gives him the option to opt out of the contract should he not end up on the Red Sox major league roster, which looks to be a good bet at this point. Boston could hang on to him throughout Spring Training, but it’s more likely they will try to deal the veteran before then, and the acquisition cost will be minimal.
A patchwork solution like Overbay might just provide what the Brewers need to stay afloat over the first month of the season, and give the team an experienced backup for Hart when he returns.
It won’t replace the team’s injured first baseman, but Overbay won’t be Alex Gonzalez trying to handle a new position, either.