The news came down this morning and it wasn’t much of a surprise. The Boston Red Sox have officially released Lyle Overbay according to Nick Cafardo and Alex Speier. The Red Sox had until noon today to notify Overbay if he would make the opening day roster.
Once the Red Sox acquired Mike Carp from the Seattle Mariners earlier this spring, it seemed like the numbers simply weren’t in Overbay’s favor. Carp’s relative youth, ability to play left field and higher upside made it look likely that he would break with the team.
The other players to significantly impact Overbay were Daniel Nava and Jackie Bradley Jr. Nava has managed to turn himself into a respectable first baseman, giving the Red Sox depth behind Mike Napoli. Nava has also managed to have a solid spring at the plate.
Bradley Jr. has been the best player in Red Sox camp this spring and it is unlikely that Boston could justify sending Bradley Jr. to the minors right now without David Ortiz.
Signing Overbay was a good, low-risk move for Boston. As a veteran player with a good glove who is used to coming off of the bench, I could see how the team looked at Napoli and viewed Overbay as a good insurance policy.
But things have changed this spring. Napoli has looked excellent defensively around the first base area and has not displayed any of the physical problems that caused his contract to be renegotiated. Nava and Carp both provide depth and youth with the ability to play first and outfield. Bradley Jr.’s performance this spring is nothing the team could have expected with such limited experience at the Double-A level last year.
This is a good problem to have, especially with Ortiz likely to miss the first month of the season. The Red Sox have solid depth right now, allowing them to withstand short-term injuries.
For the 36-year-old Overbay, it was an opportunity to showcase his skills. It is not that he played poorly, but more that the Red Sox have better options. He came on towards the end of camp and will likely get a look from a handful of teams that need a backup first baseman with experience, like the New York Yankees.
Signing Overbay was a good move for the right reasons; it just didn’t work out.