The Pirates have signed free agent first baseman Lyle Overbay to a one-year contract, the team announced on Tuesday. Financial terms of the contract were not immediately known.
Overbay, 33, comes to Pittsburgh after spending the last five seasons with Toronto. Overbay, who made $24 million over the past four years, hit .243 with 37 doubles, 20 homers and 67 RBIs in 154 games last season. He is a career .274 hitter since breaking into the Majors with Arizona in 2001.
Overbay’s .996 fielding percentage last year ranked second best in the American League. He led all AL first baseman in double plays (150) and assists (101).
“Lyle Overbay is a solid Major League player, and we expect him to have a positive impact on our club offensively, defensively and in the clubhouse,” general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement.
The left-handed hitting Overbay has averaged 17 home runs a season over the last seven years. He was an everyday player during that span and appeared in at least 157 games four times. His best season came in 2006, when Overbay hit .312 with 46 doubles, 22 homers and 92 RBIs.
The acquisition of Overbay gives the Pirates another option at first base, but it doesn’t necessarily bring clarity to the Pirates’ plans for Garrett Jones and Ryan Doumit. The left-handed hitting Jones was projected to be the team’s starting first baseman, with the possibility that the Pirates would platoon him with a right-handed hitting first baseman.
Now it appears as if the Pirates are going to give the majority of the first base at-bats to Overbay.
There’s always the possibility that Jones could move into a platoon role with Matt Diaz in right field if Doumit is dealt. The Pirates are known to be gauging trade interest in Doumit, and this acquisition could be a sign that his days in Pittsburgh are nearing an end.
UPDATE: Spoke to Huntington, who said Jones will indeed platoon with Diaz in right field. Overbay will play every day at first base. Doumit will back up Snyder and get occasional outfield at-bats.
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