Red Sox Should Sign Lyle Overbay to Play First Base and Move Kevin Youkilis to Third If Adrian Beltre Leaves The Red Sox need help through free agency, but they don’t have to break the bank to return to contention in 2011.

If Adrian Beltre turns down the Red Sox offer, which seems likely, the Sox probably will move Kevin Youkilis across the diamond, opening up a void at first base.

The Sox have a few options:

    1. Trade for Adrian Gonzalez now.
    2. Let Lars Anderson start and decide during the season whether or not to trade for Gonzalez.
    3. Sign a short-term deal with a veteran and reevaluate in 2012.


Gonzalez is one of the best first basemen in the league, but he’s likely to come at a high price in a trade. Even with all the injuries last year, the Red Sox still stayed competitive, so there’s no need to pull the trigger too fast, which means option one doesn’t work.

Option two looks a little more attractive. Anderson has talent and could develop into an above-average player, but he’s not ready yet. The Sox would be hedging their bets too much to start the season without a proven commodity at first.

Option three works best for the Red Sox. The top free-agent first basemen in alphabetical order are Adam Dunn, Aubrey Huff, Paul Konerko, Derrek Lee, Lyle Overbay and Carlos Pena. All are proven veterans who could immediately help the Red Sox lineup. All six are over 30, so signing a short-term deal is possible. Doing so would give the Red Sox the most flexibility, since they could see if Gonzalez goes on the market in 2012 or if Anderson is ready for the bigs. Even if they sign one of the veteran bats to a multi-year deal, each would make a solid designated hitter or bench player if need be.

However, Dunn, Lee, Konerko and Pena all make over $10 million and likely would end up signing for more than the $13 million a year that the Sox reportedly are offering Beltre. So if the Sox won’t up their offer for Beltre, it doesn’t make sense to overpay at first base.

The most practical solution is to sign Overbay. He’s 33, but his numbers have been fairly consistent throughout his career, and his 20 home runs last year shows he still has some pop. He’s an above-average fielder and currently makes $8 million a year, so he comes at a reasonable value. Plus, if his numbers were good in Toronto, he’d likely see a jump in the Red Sox lineup.

By signing Overbay, the Red Sox wouldn’t have to break the bank, and he gives the team a quality first baseman without tying the Sox hands for the next few years.

He may not be the flashiest player, but Overbay would make a good fit at Fenway.

Do you think Lyle Overbay is a viable first-base option for the Red Sox? Share your thoughts below.