Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/17/14
The Red Sox on Thursday added a small piece whose importance could grow exponentially by the time the dog days of summer roll around. The Sox inked veteran first baseman Lyle Overbay to a minor league contract with a non-roster invitation to Boston’s major league spring training. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reports that the deal is worth $1.25 million and includes $250,000 in performance bonuses. Overbay could opt out of the deal if he isn’t on the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster, but given Boston’s current first base situation, there’s a good chance manager John Farrell will want to keep the 36-year-old around to serve as Mike Napoli‘s backup. It seems like a minor role on the surface, but serving as Boston’s backup first baseman could wind up being a huge responsibility. Napoli says he’s healthy, his agent says he’s healthy and his teammates say he’s healthy. Basically, all indications are that he’s healthy. Yet despite the overabundance of optimism surrounding the recently signed slugger, the Red Sox can’t afford to ignore the elephant in the room — Napoli’s hip condition — and signing Overbay indicates that general manager Ben Cherington considers it important to have fallback options. The worst case scenario would be Napoli eventually feeling some ill effects of the hip condition and thus missing some time. That would obviously thrust Napoli’s primary backup into a much larger role, and Overbay at least gives the Red Sox someone who has been an everyday big leaguer — and, at times, an effective one — in the past. Let’s face it, though. Napoli could stay healthy all year or the Red Sox could have last year’s Opening Day first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez, plugged into the lineup, and it wouldn’t take away from the fact that the Sox needed to add some depth at the position. Mauro Gomez and Mark Hamilton are the only organizational options beyond Napoli who figure to get a glance in regards to 2013. While potentially viable options, they have a combined 84 games and 177 major league plate appearances among them. Overbay, on the other hand, has 12 years of big league experience split between five organizations. There’s no telling what kind of spring training any of these guys will have. Gomez has shown in the minors that he has plenty of  pop. Hamilton has as well, and he has the added allure of being a left-handed hitter who is also capable of playing in the outfield if Farrell so chooses. One has to think that Gomez or Hamilton will have to perform at a high level throughout spring training in order to leapfrog Overbay on the depth chart, though. Overbay is by no means the player he once was. In 2006, he hit .312, smacked 22 home runs and drove in 92 runs as a member of the Blue Jays. He reached the 20-home run plateau again in 2010, but it came with a .243 average and just 67 RBIs. Ever since, his statistical output has been even less impressive. But regardless of his 2011 or 2012 numbers, Overbay still gives the Red Sox a decent glove and a lefty bench option, a combination that will be valuable regardless of whether Napoli holds up for the entire season. It’s safe to say Overbay has evolved into a respectable bench player, and his willingness to accept a minor league deal demonstrates he’s accepted that fact. He won’t enter 2013 as the Red Sox’ most notable free-agent signing, but from the standpoint of strengthening the team’s bench, it’s an acquisition that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Aaron Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box after murder

Byron Scott: Opposing players say they want to play for Lakers

Falcons reportedly will lose pick over pumping in crowd noise

Report: Sam Bradford wouldn't sign extension with Browns

Jimbo Fisher: Winston is victim of ‘character assassination’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Russell Wilson on contract: 'It's going to work out'

Kentucky seeks one kind of history, Coach K makes another

Matt Stafford's fiancee rips newspaper over article

Craig Sager's leukemia has returned

Frozen Four: Providence earns first bid since 1985

Report: Discussions to bring NFL team to L.A. are progressing

Top 10 stories from NCAA Tourney's second weekend

The MLBPA has a problem

Final Four preview: How can every team win?

WrestleMania 31 results: Rollins cashes in, Rousey appears

Five soon-to-be NBA free agents with a lot on the line

WATCH: Russell Wilson hits home run during Rangers BP

Hooked 'em: Why Texas had to fire Rick Barnes

Adam Morrison trolled fan who made JJ Redick comment

Jim Harbaugh finished fourth in student government election

WATCH: Notre Dame gets warm reception upon return home

WATCH: Kris Letang hospitalized after hit

Aaron Rodgers, sportswriter get into it over on-court access

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box

Mayweather-Pacquiao: It's sparring tall-tale season

The MLBPA has a problem

Final Four preview: Can every team win?

Full WrestleMania 31 recap and results

Why Texas had to fire Rick Barnes

Craig Sager's leukemia has returned

Report: Chris Mullin to take St. John's job

Report: NFL looking into more cameras

CC Sabathia goes off about spring stats

John Fox: Cutler will have to earn job

Texas eyeing Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.