Blue Jays acquire Overbay for three players

Updated: December 8, 2005, 1:27 PM ET
Associated Press

DALLAS -- The Toronto Blue Jays turned their attention to offense on Wednesday night, acquiring first baseman Lyle Overbay from the Milwaukee Brewers for right-hander Dave Bush, outfield prospect Gabe Gross and Triple-A left-hander Zach Jackson.

 Lyle Overbay
Overbay

Toronto also gets minor league pitcher Ty Taubenheim in the deal, completed Thursday.

The Blue Jays, expanding their payroll from $45 million to $75 million next season, have been one of the most active teams in baseball this offseason. They already added starter A.J. Burnett and gave closer B.J. Ryan a five-year, $47 million contract that is the richest ever for a reliever.

"We added two good arms and a bat we really wanted," Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "We'd like to get one more bat."

Overbay, a left-handed hitter who is eligible for arbitration, batted .276 with 19 homers and 72 RBI this year. His departure clears the way for top prospect Prince Fielder to take over at first base in Milwaukee.

"He'd better be ready now," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said with a smile. "He [Overbay] knew it was going to happen. He's seen Prince play. He knows what kind of player he is. Now he's going to get a chance to have a good career."

Bush was 5-11 with a 4.49 ERA in 25 games (24 starts) for Toronto this year. Gross played 40 games in Toronto, with one homer and seven RBI. He spent the rest of the season at Triple-A Syracuse, where he hit .300 with six homers and 49 RBI.

Jackson couldn't be included in the deal until after Thursday's winter meeting draft. The 32nd pick overall out of Texas A&M in the 2004 amateur draft, he moved through three levels of the minors and had a combined 16-8 record with a 3.92 ERA.

"We've got some very good positional prospects," Melvin said. "We're a little short on pitchers. So this deal allows us to get better."

The 23-year-old Taubenheim went 10-2 with a 2.63 ERA at Class-A Brevard County last season and 2-6 with a 4.36 ERA for Double-A Huntsville. The right-hander was picked in the 44th round of the 2002 draft by Milwaukee.

The Boston Red Sox had also pursued Overbay to replace the tandem of Kevin Millar, who was not offered arbitration, and John Olerud, who retired. Boston offered Matt Clement, who has $15 million left on his contract for 2006-07, but balked at eating salary in the exchange.

"We were looking at young pitchers who would have left us the flexibility to do other things," Melvin said. "It wasn't something that could happen here, and I didn't want to walk away from the opportunity."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press