TORONTO — Lyle Overbay decided to make a long-term commitment to the Blue Jays after Vernon Wells chose to stay with Toronto.
“I knew we had a good thing, a great clubhouse. We signed Vernon Wells. That was a big part of it,” Overbay said Monday after finalizing a $24 million, four-year contract.
Wells, Toronto’s Gold Glove center fielder, agreed last month to a $126 million, seven-year extension through 2014.
Overbay had been eligible to become a free agent after the 2008 but accepted a deal that calls for a $3.8 million signing bonus, $400,000 this year, $5.8 million in 2008 and $7 million in each of the following two seasons.
General manager J.P. Ricciardi also has signed Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, B.J. Ryan, Troy Glaus and Frank Thomas to multiyear contracts
“We think there is a core nucleus here that is built really for ’07 to ’10,” Ricciardi said. “We’re just trying to keep as good a group together as we can.”
Overbay set career highs with a .312 average, 22 homers and 92 RBIs last season after being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers. His 46 doubles were fourth in the AL.
Toronto’s lineup includes right-handed power hitters Wells, Glaus and Thomas. Overbay, a left-handed batter, hit fifth for most of last season, but could hit cleanup if manager John Gibbons wants to break up the righties.
Overbay said it doesn’t matter where he hits, he’s just excited to have the newly signed Thomas in it.
Ricciardi thinks an improved offense will help make up for the loss of left-hander Ted Lilly, but said he doesn’t think the team will slug its way to the top of the AL East.
“We’ll have a very good offensive team. Most nights, we’ll have a chance to pitch well,” Ricciardi said.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
This signing, possibly unnoticed by a lot of casual fans, is a freat signing. That’s right, great signing. Overbay may only be known to Blue Jay fans, or Brewer fans, and avid baseball fans. He does everything right though. He hits for average, fields his position well, has decent power and hits a ton of doubles, while showing incredible plate discipline.
His left handed bat slots nicely somewhere in the crowd of right handed hitters (Vernon Wells, Troy Glaus, Frank Thomas, and Alex Rios. He strikes out very little for a firstbaseman and draws a good number of walks, usually working the pitcher deep into counts.
Toronto’s GM J.P. Ricciardi has done what every GM wishes to do, have complete control of your 10 best players. He is going to put a team out that can compete in the beast known as the AL East.
Blue Jays fans should celebrate this signing and look forward to a very competetive future.
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