On-Base Perception

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Yankees sign Lyle Overbay

Lyle Overbay of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats during

Lyle Overbay of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats during a game against the Miami Marlins. (April 30, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

The Red Sox trash is the Yankees treasure.

The Yankees announced they signed Lyle Overbay to a minor league contract just hours after Boston released the first baseman to avoid having to pay him a $100,000 bonus.

Overbay, 36, hit .220 (9-for-41) with five runs, one double, two triples and seven RBIs in 19 spring training games for the Red Sox.

A new collective bargaining agreement provision states that certain free agents signed to minor league contracts must receive a $100,000 retention bonus if they’re not added to a club’s 25-man roster or disabled list five days prior to the start of the season. Teams looking to save the money had to cut players by early Tuesday.

Overbay fills a clear need for the Yankees, who are trying to replace Mark Teixeira for at least the first month of the season. Overbay has a .270 average, .791 on-base plus slugging percentage and 133 home runs in 12 seasons with Arizona, Milwaukee, Toronto, Pittsburgh and Atlanta. The lefty slugger led the National League with 53 doubles in 2004 and hit double-digit home runs every season from 2004-2010. He slumped to a .234 average and nine home runs in 2011 and hit .259 with two home runs in 2012.

Overbay has a .311 average, .408 on-base percentage and three home runs in 71 plate appearances at the new Yankee Stadium. Though he’s only an average first baseman defensively he still represents an upgrade over non-roster invitee Dan Johnson or Juan Rivera, who was brought to camp on a minor league deal and has spent the majority of his career as an outfielder.

Overbay was one of several players cut on Tuesday that could represent a Spring Training Band-Aid for both New York clubs at multiple positions.

The Yankees could also look for an upgrade at catcher with either Rod Barajas – released by the Diamondbacks Monday evening – or Ramon Hernandez, who’s expected to be traded or released by the Rockies, according to a report.

Hernandez has a career .744 OPS in 14 seasons with Oakland, San Diego, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Colorado. He’s hit double-digit home runs eight times and has 166 for his career, which already makes him an upgrade over the incumbent Yankees catching duo of Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli, who’ve combined for just nine career home runs in 841 career at-bats. Though injuries hampered Hernandez in 2012, seeing him post a career-low .601 OPS, he had a .792 OPS in 2010 and .788 OPS in 2011 while playing for the Reds. Hernandez had a .292 average, .366 on-base percentage and six home runs at old Yankee Stadium, but has never played in the new ballpark.

Barajas has hit double-digit home runs in eight of the last nine seasons and totaled 136 long balls during a 14-year career with Arizona, Texas, Philadelphia, Toronto, Pittsburgh, the Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has a .691 career OPS, which, while below average, still represents an upgrade over Stewart (.583, four career home runs) and Cervelli (.692, five career home runs). Given that Vernon Wells’ strong spring stats contributed to the Yankees taking a shot on him recently, it’s also worth noting that Barajas hit .290 with a .371 OBP and two home runs this spring for Arizona.

The Mets, meanwhile, are facing depth issues with their starting rotation. Johan Santana won’t be ready for several weeks, Shaun Marcum is expected to be sidelined for at least the first several games of the season and Jenrry Mejia, who was being counted on to provide rotation depth, is down for six weeks with elbow inflammation.

But Tuesday morning brought options on that front as well.

Ex-Met Chris Young was granted his release by the Nationals after it was determined he wouldn’t make the team. Young is 53-43 with a 3.79 ERA in nine seasons with Texas, San Diego and the Mets. He was 5-9 with a 3.76 ERA in two seasons in Flushing and posted a 4.15 ERA last year in 115 innings. A flyball pitcher, Young was made for an environ like Citi Field. He's reportedly been heavily scouted this spring, so the Mets could face some competition if they try for a reunion.

The Phillies released Aaron Cook, who had a 3.38 ERA in 18.2 spring innings. Cook is 76-79 with a 4.60 ERA in 11 seasons with Colorado and Boston. He hasn’t had an ERA below 5.00 since 2009, but has proved durable. His 57.5 career ground ball rate is also attractive and could be employed effectively either out of the rotation or the bullpen.

Tags: Yankees , Mets , Lyle Overbay , Ramon Hernandez , Rod Barajas , Chris Young , Chris Stewart , Francisco Cervelli , Aaron Cook

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