By Jeff Louderback
Needing a left-handed bat to platoon with the right-handed hitting Mike Napoli at first base, the Boston Red Sox signed 36-year-old Lyle Overbay to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training on Thursday.
According to multiple media reports, Overbay can opt out of the contract if he is not on the Red Sox roster by the end of spring training.
A career .270 hitter in 12 Major League seasons, Overbay hit .259 with a .727 OPS in 131 plate appearances between Arizona and Atlanta in 2012. He has a .275 career mark against right-handed pitching, and clubbed 20 home runs with Toronto in 2010.
Though he is far from the player who belted 53 doubles for Milwaukee in 2004, Overbay is a defensively proficient first baseman who is a low-cost and low-risk signing in Boston’s attempt to fine a left-handed complement to Napoli.
Mauro Gomez, the 28-year-old slugger who was named International League MVP at Pawtucket last season and was a pleasant surprise in his time with the Red Sox, is another first baseman on the 40-man roster, but he is a right-handed bat and has limited Major League experience.
There is speculation that 29-year-old switch-hitter Daniel Nava could see time at first base in spring training, adding to his versatility. He is also a candidate to platoon with Jonny Gomes in left field.
The Red Sox have been linked to acquiring Seattle’s Mike Carp, a left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder, but after signing Kelly Shoppach, the Mariners no longer have a need for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.