Where the young, left-handed slugger is concerned, the Minnesota Twins find themselves in something of a mild quadry. It's a strange place for an organization to be when a 24-year old, left handed power hitter with a record of Major League success can't find his way into the starting lineup.
Oswaldo Arcia had a difficult 2015, which is a diplomatic way of approaching his campaign. Yet coming into last season he was considered to be a potential franchise cornerstone as a player with a .297/.358/.517 career triple slash in the minor leagues. More impressive was that he was coming off of a .231/.300/.452 Major League line. Just 23, Arcia had cranked 20 home runs - and 39 extra-base hits all told - in just 410 plate appearances.
To put his career trajectory in context, Arcia had tallied 34 home runs through his age-23 season. That ties him for the third-best mark in Twins history (Tom Brunansky, 80; Kent Hrbek, 40; Zoilo Versalles, 34).
All of which makes last year that much more disappointing. Arcia took his role as the team's power source to heart, seemingly eschewing any kind of strike zone judgement or plate discipline. Coaches sometimes criticized him for swinging for the fences too often. Granted, Arcia's power (especially versus right-handed pitchers) is exactly what makes him so appealing, but so much of the game is still about understanding the situation.
One year later, Arcia is out of options and fighting for a roster spot. Now when he looks around the outfield, Arcia, just 25 in May, finds himself as the old man. With Byron Buxton (22) in center, Eddie Rosario (a younger 24) in left, and Miguel Sano (22) in right, and of course Byung Ho Park as the hopeful everyday designated hitter, Arcia's only path to a roster spot with the Twins is on the bench.
For a player about to enter his age-25 season, that's a difficult place from which to retake a roster spot. In today's game it's easy for fans to dismiss young players after a tough year, but these slumps happen. Dismissing Arcia, considering his age and being just one year removed from such a promising future, is premature.
Whatever is in store for Arcia, getting one or two starts a week in Minnesota is going to be a hard way to get his development back on track. Having a guy who can generate that kind of power available off the bench is a fun luxury for the Twins. He belted a pair of home runs this afternoon, not putting too find a point on exactly why he's such a fascinating player to watch.
But if Minnesota is interested in what's best for Arcia, now might be the time where they look to find a trade partner. He doesn't run well, doesn't hit left-handed pitchers particularly well, and his defensive upside is limited. While a player with that profile limits options if he's coming off the bench, having a slugger like that in the starting lineup works.
The Phillies continue to be a good fit. Odubel Herrera seems to have center field locked down after a promising season. Following in his Rule 5 footsteps is Tyler Goeddel, but that's the best second option Philadelphia has to put in the outfield even though he hasn't logged a plate appearance above Double-A. Peter Bourjos and David Lough will be fine defensively, but they lack any kind of offensive upside. Taking a flyer on Arcia and giving him a chance to possibly recapture his middle-of-the-order presence in the batter's box is exactly the type of risk that Philadelphia has time for at this point in their process.
Arcia is a fascinating study. He brings great energy and commitment, he's a fun guy to have in the clubhouse, and his power potential is undeniable. If there was a clear path to regular playing time in Minnesota, this isn't a bridge I'd be prepared to burn quite yet. But now, I just think he deserves the opportunity to start and make the most of his career.