Overbay will be given a chance to win a roster spot with Boston during spring training.
The signing was first reported in a tweet by the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber.
Source: 1B Lyle Overbay has nonroster invite to spring training with #RedSox.— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) January 31, 2013
WEEI’s Rob Bradford confirmed the signing in a separate report.
The Red Sox had been in the market for a left-handed first baseman to complement Mike Napoli, who signed his own one-year free-agent deal earlier this offseason.
Overbay could fit that bill.
The 36-year-old is a veteran of 12 major league seasons with five teams (including two stints with the Arizona Diamondbacks). In 1,324 career games, he has a .270 batting average with 133 home runs and 581 RBI.
His best season came in 2006 with the Toronto Blue Jays, when he hit .312 with 22 home runs, 46 doubles and 92 RBI.
He last played regularly in 2011, when he hit a combined .234 with nine home runs and 47 RBI in 121 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Diamondbacks.
He split last year with Arizona and the Atlanta Braves, hitting a combined .259 with just two home runs and 10 RBI in 65 games. However, he was used primarily off the bench, as he had a total of only 116 at-bats.
Advanced metrics at BaseballReference.com show Overbay has been a consistently good, but not great defensive player during his career.
Finding an experienced first baseman was one of the final moves the Red Sox hoped to make as they approached spring training. Napoli has never played the position regularly and was recently diagnosed with avascular necrosis, which is a degenerative hip condition that could manifest itself at any time.
Other than Napoli, the only players on Boston’s current roster capable of playing first base are Mauro Gomez and Mark Hamilton. They both have lengthy track records of production in the minor leagues, but have done little during short stints in the majors.
Overbay is nothing more than depth at this point. He shouldn’t be viewed as any more than a backup who can occasionally start, pinch-hit and be a late-inning defensive replacement.
As long as Boston and its fans don’t heap expectations on Overbay, they may have themselves a nice bench player to round out the roster. His experience and ability to back up Napoli could give him an excellent chance of making the team out of spring training and becoming a very valuable player.
Statistics via BaseballReference