The news late last week 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 this roster, or at least in the organization, for a just-turned-25-year-old with nearly 1,000 MLB plate appearances?
After all, the 1,000 plate appearance threshold is often cited as the point at which hitters start to figure things out, and though OPS isn't the only statistical measurement worth considering, there is this: Going into 2016 the Twins 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.
At the time Arcia was DFA'd, Dozier's career OPS was .723 and Plouffe's was .721. Arcia's is .732.
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.
Will the Twins come to regret giving up on Arcia, if he is indeed snatched up by another team, even to the extent they regret similarly giving up on David Ortiz 14 years ago? Several folks on Twitter had that thought.
Ortiz, of course, went on to star with the Red Sox. He has more than 500 career home runs and will be in Cooperstown someday. And despite his constant digs at the Twins in recent years, he 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 spanning six different seasons). 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 even then Ortiz had far more plate discipline than Arcia.
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. Arcia is not on a similar trajectory; his best years were in 2013 and 2014.
The team situations are different, too. In 2002, Ortiz's last year in Minnesota, the Twins 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 any kind of potential talent. 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 nearly as much as they do Ortiz, but I also wouldn't be surprised if a change of scenery and some more at-bats turn him into a productive player.