Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 2/1/13
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

Las Vegas Mob Museum to open FIFA corruption exhibit

Does NFL have a motive to settle with Tom Brady?

Big Ten coaches opposed to 9-game conference schedule

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Hill arrested for reckless driving, clocked going 107 mph

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Diamondbacks GM: Padres wanted Goldschmidt for Kimbrel

'Rowdy' Roddy Piper dead at 61

Mets acquire Yoenis Cespedes from Tigers

Sheldon Richardson escapes felony charges for recent arrest

Lawyer who litigated against NFL: Brady plays every game

Cowboys should sign interested RB Steven Jackson

Jack Del Rio: Crabtree ‘stood out’ at first Raiders camp practice

Browns Owner: ‘we haven’t given up on Johnny Manziel’

Junior Seau’s daughter will speak at hall of fame induction

Golden State Warriors: the rich get richer

NFL, Brady could settle to avoid appeal documents going public

Miguel Herrera apologizes for costly Philly airport fight

Russell Wilson contract $60 million guaranteed? Not so fast

Bernard Pollard backs Tom Brady, disagrees with suspension

Cardale Jones continues to show love toward Ronda Rousey

Joseph Randle on Steven Jackson: ‘He’s at home watching’

Evan Turner reps Ohio State after NBA Africa game

The Wind Up: a wild and crazy trade deadline

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

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Pirates do Pirates at deadline: Neat little moves

Mets acquire Cespedes from Tigers

Ranking the NFL’s 32 head coaches

Five worst baseball trades since 2000

Examining the state of the NFL

Puig: Broke out of slump by playing baseball video games

Braves dump risk, exchange it for risk

David Price traded to Blue Jays

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Cole Hamels chose Rangers over Astros

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker