Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the Diamondbacks have signed Lyle Overbay. He’ll replace Xavier Nady, who is expected to miss 4-6 weeks after suffering a fractured left hand on a hit by a pitch during last night’s win over the Mets.
Overbay will receive a prorated portion of the major league minimum salary and is expected to share playing time with rookie Paul Goldschmidt at first base.
Overbay, 34, was released by the Pirates earlier this week after batting .227/.300/.349 with eight homers, 37 RBI and a .649 OPS over 391 plate appearances. It isn’t saying much, but he actually represents something of an improvement over Nady, who was hitting .248/.287/.359 with four homers, 35 RBI and a .645 OPS over 223 plate appearances. While his defense has fallen off a bit this year according to advanced metrics, Overbay is also regarded as a better fielder at first base.
Overbay was originally drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 18th round of the 1999 draft. He batted .271/.357/.391 with four home runs and 29 RBI over 305 plate appearances with Arizona from 2001-2003 before being traded to the Brewers in the Richie Sexson deal.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?