The news Thursday night that the Twins designated Oswaldo Arcia for assignment was met with some puzzlement among Twins fans. The basic premise is fair: is there not a place on the roster, or at least in the organization, for a just-turned-25-year-old with a .732 OPS in nearly 1,000 plate appearances?
After all: 1) That 1,000 plate appearance threshold is often cited as the point at which hitters start to figure things out. 2) Though OPS isn’t the only statistical measurement worth considering, there is this: the Twins going into 2016 considered Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe to be valuable players — maybe not cornerstones, but guys they could pencil into the lineup for years to come. Dozier’s career OPS is .723. Plouffe’s career OPS is .721.
That’s less of an indictment of the other two and more of a statement that says: hey, this kid Arcia, even while he was struggling to find his way (and even while he was playing subpar defense) could hit a little bit.
The question then becomes: will the Twins come to regret giving up on Arcia, if he is indeed snatched up by another team? And the biggest thought that comes to mind in conjunction with that is: will they regret it on any kind of level close to regretting similarly giving up on David Ortiz 14 years ago?
Several folks on Twitter had that thought, including this one:
— C. Dayton Jenks (@MNsocialguy) June 17, 2016
Ortiz, of course, went on to star with the Red Sox for 14 seasons. He has more than 500 career home runs and will be in Cooperstown someday. And in spite of his constant digs at the Twins in recent years, Ortiz was honored recently at Target Field during his farewell tour.
The similarities between the two are worth noting: power-hitting lefties who showed some flashes with the Twins but never turned a major corner.
The differences, though, are just as plain: Ortiz, when with the Twins, was given more of a chance than Arcia (1,693 plate appearances with the Twins spanning six different seasons); Ortiz was, in fact, far more accomplished: his career OPS in Minnesota was .809 and in his final year here it was .839 thanks to 20 homers in 412 at bats; and Ortiz, even then, had far more plate discipline: he struck out about once every five plate appearances with the Twins and walked once ever 10. Arcia has struck out in almost one-third of his career plate appearances and walked in one of every 14.
The regret with Ortiz was more that even when the Twins decided they had seen enough, he was coming off a pretty good year. Nobody could have known he would become what he is now, but even if he had progressed a little he would have been a dangerous hitter for years to come. The regret with Arcia is more potential-based, given that he has seemingly regressed after hitting 34 home runs combined in 2013 and 2014.
The team situations are different, too: in 2002, the Twins’ last year with Ortiz, they started their run of six division titles in nine years and made it to the ALCS. They had a strong roster full of productive players. The 2016 Twins don’t seem to be in a position to give up on talented players. But they are the judges of that.
In the end, I have a hard time believing the Twins will come to regret giving up on Arcia to anything near the same degree as they did Ortiz, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if a change of scenery and some more at bats turns him into a productive player. I always liked watching him; he was my wife’s favorite player (she called him O’do).
If the Red Sox scoop him up and the Twins end up honoring him 14 years from now, I might even buy a ticket.