Pirates sign 1B Overbay, OF Diaz

The Pirates won’t be confused for the Phillies anytime soon. But

while their state rivals were busy with Cliff Lee on Tuesday, at

least Pittsburgh jumped into the shallow end of the free-agent


The Pirates announced the signing of outfielder Matt Diaz and

first baseman Lyle Overbay. Diaz, 32, who hit .250 for Atlanta last

season, signed a $4.25 million, two-year contract with a signing

bonus of $250,000, while Overbay, 33, who hit 20 home runs last

year for Toronto, received a $5 million, one-year deal.

The additions likely will allow the Pirates to trade Ryan

Doumit, who is primarily a catcher but has also played the

outfield. He is due $5.1 million in 2011.

Overbay had 37 doubles last year with the Blue Jays, but batted

just .243 with 67 RBIs, the second fewest among all major league

starting first basemen with at least 475 at-bats at the


The Pirates, again restricting their free agent activity to

budget-priced players, plan to start Overbay at first. Garrett

Jones and Diaz are expected to platoon in right field. Jones hit

.247 with 21 homers and 86 RBIs last season as Pittsburgh’s primary

first baseman.

”Lyle Overbay is a solid major league player,” Pirates general

manager Neal Huntington said, ”and we expect him to have a

positive impact on our club offensively, defensively and in the


Pittsburgh has had 18 straight losing seasons and its 57-105

record was its worst in 58 years.

Against left-handed pitchers, Diaz hit .273 with five home runs

in 2010, and .412 with six homers in 2009.

”Matt Diaz is a quality fit for our club,” Huntington said,

”as a right-handed hitting outfielder whose abilities and approach

will impact the team on and off the field.”

Neither Diaz nor Overbay were tendered contracts by their former

clubs, thus allowing them to become free agents.

Overbay should upgrade what was the majors’ worst defense last

season. He led the AL in double plays and assists by a first

baseman. His best season at the plate came in 2006 with Toronto

when he hit 20 home runs and 46 doubles with 92 RBIs.

Overbay made his major league debut with Arizona in 2001, was

traded to Milwaukee before the 2004 season and dealt to Toronto

before the 2006 season. In parts of 10 years, he is a .274 hitter

with 122 home runs and 524 RBIs.

Diaz’s best season was in 2009, when he established career highs

in at-bats (371), runs (56) and home runs (13), while hitting