Washington - The Braves signed first baseman Lyle Overbay to a minor league contract Monday, with plans to add him to their bench when rosters expand on Sept. 1. He’ll report to Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday’s off day and get into game action Thursday against Syracuse.
Overbay was designated for assignment by Arizona on July 30 after the Diamondbacks traded for Houston’s Chris Johnson. Overbay was hitting .292 (28-for-96) with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 45 games for Arizona. He had been 2-for-his-past-23.
“We feel like he’s a nice addition,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “He gives us another veteran guy that can give you professional at-bats off the bench.”
Overbay, 35, is in his 12th season in the majors, having played for the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Blue Jays and Pirates. He averaged 17 home runs per season from 2004 to 2010.
He is 6-for-22 (.273) with one double and two RBIs as a pinch hitter this season. He’s hit .305 (25-for-82) against right-handed pitchers.
Wren said Overbay has taken his time holding out hope that he could sign somewhere as an every-day player but has remained in contact with the Braves throughout the process.
“He’s had interest all along, but I think he wanted to take his time and make sure he made the right decision,” Wren said. “We’ve been talking about once a week since then, just checking in. There wasn’t a great deal of urgency on either side. He does need to start playing and we need to have him in the organization prior to Sept. 1.”
By virtue of being in the Braves organization before Sept. 1, Overbay would be eligible to make a potential postseason roster. He could be added in place of someone who’s on the disabled list. Overbay played in the National League Division Series last year with Arizona, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in two games against his former Brewers team.
Overbay would fill a similar role as Eric Hinske, who is also a left-handed hitting first baseman. But Hinske is hitting only 7-for-45 as a pinch hitter (.156).