In today’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo reports that free agent first baseman/DH Lyle Overbay hasn’t drawn much interest thus far in the off-season. Overbay turns 37 years old next month and has posted a below-average adjusted OPS in each of the past three seasons (88, 95, 87; 100 is average) but he proved to be quite useful to the Yankees when Mark Teixeira succumbed to a wrist injury.
If used as a platoon partner at first base or at DH, Overbay makes sense for a team looking to boost production on a budget. He posted a .748 OPS against right-handed pitching last season compared to .516 against lefties and has an .815/.684 split over his 13-year career. Cafardo suggests the Orioles or Indians could be fits but doesn’t expect Overbay to find a home until January.
Unfortunately for Overbay, this off-season has featured a glut of options at first base, so his value is less than it normally would be in a typical off-season. Five free agent first baseman signed multi-year deals, another six received a one-year deal, Kevin Youkilis went to Japan, and still there are in excess of ten free agent first basemen remaining including Overbay.
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.
The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.
The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.