Lyle Overbay is available. The 35-year-old was designated for assignment July 31 by the Diamondbacks, a move that set him to clear waivers Friday and become a free agent should no team take him off Arizona’s hands.
It’s understandable why the Diamondbacks let Overbay go. He only mustered two hits in his final 25 at-bats for the team as Paul Goldschmidt established himself as the everyday first baseman. No platoon necessary there, and with 40-man roster spots required to make deadline math work out, Overbay was out.
But even with his brutal finish, Overbay hit .292/.367/.449 (112 wRC+) for the Diamondbacks and has a three-year line of .248/.330/.413 (100 wRC+). Average hitters are scarce in August. Can Overbay still impact a playoff race?
Perhaps not in a typical season — it isn’t often we see multiple contenders struggling to adequately man first base. But such has been the case in 2012. The Orioles and Rays, each within 1.5 games of a Wild Card slot, have identical wRC+ marks of 93 from the cold corner. The Pirates check in at 92, but will try Gaby Sanchez instead.
These laggards bring us to two NL West teams, the most fitting suitors for the former Diamondback: the Giants, sitting in 25th at an 88 wRC+, and the Dodgers, last in the majors with a decrepit 68 wRC+. Thank James Loney (.252/.302/.332, 325 PA) and Juan Rivera .250/.286/.357 (.252/.302/.332).
The Giants have at least considered the Overbay option, but the fit only works if Brandon Belt‘s reverse platoon splits are legitimate. He owns a .378 career wOBA against lefties with just a .297 mark against righties. But with just 382 plate appearances against righties and 125 against lefties, chances are things will at least even out.
Without those reverse splits, an Overbay-Belt platoon makes little sense (beyond any development concerns for the young Belt), as Overbay’s usefulness is limited to facing righties. He owns a .347 wOBA in the split since 2009 compared to a .285 mark against lefties. Still, the Giants could use him on the bench — San Francisco pinch hitters have managed just a .160/.234/.244 line this season. Overbay would be a marked improvement over Aubrey Huff (49 wRC+).
And so we have the Dodgers. New ownership at Chavez Ravine has made the big moves, bringing in expensive players in Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton. The club still faces a grind to the playoffs though, 1.5 games behind San Francisco in the NL West. First base is the major need, and Overbay’s preference to hit right-handers works fine for the Dodgers. Their static duo has been even worse against right-handers, with a .273 wOBA trailing the 29th-best Mariners by 12 points.
The Dodgers have toyed with post-July additions in the past — Greg Maddux and Jim Thome, just as examples. Rarely do we see a team so lacking in one spot get the chance to patch it after the deadline. Los Angeles just might have that chance with Overbay, a chance well worth dipping into the August transaction market again.
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