When the Red Sox signed Lyle Overbay earlier this offseason, it looked as if the 12-year veteran was on the fast track to earning a spot on the club’s bench. Overbay now has some spring training competition, though, as the arrival of Mike Carp will surely shake things up.
After signing Mike Napoli to a one-year deal, the Red Sox finally gained their starting first baseman for the upcoming season. However, general manager Ben Cherington made it clear that he wanted to find a left-handed hitter to back up Napoli (and potentially play the outfield).
Overbay and Carp figure to be the two front-runners to serve as Napoli’s primary backup. While Mauro Gomez and Mark Hamilton could also be options, neither has a ton of big league experience. There, of course, is the possibility that more than one of these players cracks Boston’s Opening Day roster, but it’ll be interesting to see who gets a majority of the playing time when Napoli sits.
Overbay is a career .270 hitter. The 36-year-old has seen his role and production diminish in recent years, but he hit 20 home runs as a member of the Blue Jays in 2010. He also smacked 22 blasts, drove in 92 runs and hit .312 in 157 games with Toronto in 2006. While he’s never played the outfield in the bigs, he has at least discussed the possibility with the Sox, so perhaps it’s not too far-fetched.
Carp, who will turn 27 in June, is a career .255 hitter while playing in parts of four big league seasons. He hit .213 with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 164 at-bats as a member of the Mariners last season, and he hit .276 with 12 home runs and 46 RBIs in 290 at-bats the year before.
Gomez and Hamilton, meanwhile, don’t have the big league experience, but they have shown plenty of pop in the minors. Gomez is a .275 hitter in 102 major league at-bats, and the 28-year-old has hit 24 home runs and over .300 at Triple-A each of the last two seasons. Hamilton, who turns 29 in July and also plays the outfield, is a career .197 in 61 at-bats. He hit .345 with a .439 on-base percentage in Triple-A two seasons ago, though.
Overbay has already stated that he’s looking forward to competing for a job. Red Sox fans should welcome the competition as well.