Continuing to stockpile options at first base, the Milwaukee Brewers have signed veteran first baseman Lyle Overbay to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training.
Overbay returns to the Brewers where he was the team’s starting first baseman in 2004 and 2005. The 36-year-old spent 2013 with the New York Yankees, appearing in 142 games and hitting .240 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI.
After breaking into the big leagues with Arizona, Overbay was traded to the Brewers in December of 2003 in a seven-player trade that sent Richie Sexson to the Diamondbacks. Milwaukee acquired Overbay, left-hander Chris Capuano, catcher Chad Moeller, left-hander Jorge De La Rosa and second baseman Junior Spivey in the deal.
Overbay played in 317 of 324 games over his two years with the Brewers, hitting .301 with a franchise-record 53 doubles, 16 home runs and 87 RBI in 2004. His numbers slipped a bit in 2005, but Overbay still batted .276 with 34 doubles, 19 home runs and 72 RBI.
The Brewers had Prince Fielder knocking at the door to take over at first base, making Overbay a trade piece after the 2005 season. They ended up dealing him to Toronto in December of 2005 for right-hander Dave Bush, outfielder Gabe Gross and minor-league pitcher Zach Jackson.
Overbay spent five seasons with the Blue Jays before signing as a free agent with Pittsburgh in 2010. He’s been released three times since then, playing for the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Red Sox and Yankees.
Milwaukee wanted to sign Overbay last winter, but he opted to sign with Boston thinking Corey Hart would be back and playing time would be limited with the Brewers. But Hart never returned and the Brewers had a big need at the position. Overbay ended up getting released in spring training and latched on with the Yankees.
Overbay and Mark Reynolds helped fill the void Mark Teixeira’s injury left at first base for the Yankees last season. The two will now compete in spring training along with Juan Francisco and Hunter Morris to make the Brewers roster.
Francisco, Overbay and Morris are left-handed hitters, while Reynolds hits from the right side of the plate. Overbay is the best defensive option at the position, as he carries a career .995 fielding percentage at first base. He made just four errors in 130 games at first base last season.
Over his 13-year career, Overbay has hit .267 with 342 doubles, 147 home runs and 640 RBI in 1,446 games.