In past years–or past decades, more accurately–the Pirates may have lived with an unproductive veteran first baseman, but with the team in contention for the first time in a long time their patience with Lyle Overbay appears to be running out.
Signed to a one-year, $5 million deal as a free agent, Overbay has hit just .229 with seven homers in 99 games, posting a .646 OPS that ranks 24th among the 26 first basemen with at least 250 plate appearances.
Clint Hurdle indicated to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com that increasing Steve Pearce’s playing time at Overbay’s expense is one option, but Pearce has been even less productive in a part-time role with a .636 OPS.
Pursuing another veteran bat via trade makes sense and Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that the Pirates are interested in Jason Kubel of the Twins. Of course, with Minnesota unsure whether to buy or sell Kubel may ultimately not even be available. Whatever the case, with the Pirates just 1.5 games out of first place and Overbay adding nothing at an offense-driven position it shouldn’t be too tough or too costly to find an upgrade.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.