Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Twins Next Big Contract

Mar 13, 2015; Bradenton, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins right fielder Oswaldo Arcia (31) hits a rbi single during the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports 
This morning, the Minnesota Twins announced they had agreed to a contract extension with All Star second basemen Brian Dozier. In giving him $20 million guaranteed over the next four years, the club eats up his arbitration years and effectively saves themselves money in the long run given production remains at an equal or greater value. While Dozier is the player many believed was up next for a payday, the Twins may be looking at another player in the not so distant future.

A 23-year-old outfielder from Venezuela has not been the greatest defensive asset (to put it lightly) but the Twins are well aware that Oswaldo Arcia is quickly trending towards a payday. While he doesn't become arbitration eligible until 2017, the Twins may look to make the power hitting lefty part of their future, and once again, save some dollars in the long run.

Having debuted with the Twins in April of 2013, and being only 23, Arcia has plenty of growing yet to do. While struggling in the outfield may have to be something the Twins get used to, his payday is going to come in the form of his bat. Last season, Arcia slashed .231/.300/.452; less than ideal numbers for a prototypical middle of the lineup power hitter. However, once he began working extensively with hitting coach Tom Brunansky, Arcia's September produced a .263/.330/.513 slash line.

Heading into 2015, it's probably fair and safe to assume that Arcia's September numbers are more indicative of what he is capable of going forward. As he continues to hone in on the plate, and take a greater command of the zone, his power numbers should only increase. Hitting six home runs and driving in 14 over the final month of the season, the Twins could expect Arcia to be north of the 30 home run mark in 2015. Batting in the heart of the order and supplying that kind of production, there's no doubt that the Twins will want to make sure Arcia is around for the long run.

It's probably premature to be speculating to what extent the Twins want to extend Arcia, or for what cost, but there's no doubt it seems to be a decision that would make sense. In Major League Baseball, young power hitters are generally coveted pieces of competing teams. The Twins are developing one in Arcia, and the further his ceiling is pushed, the more expensive he will continue to get. Considering his age, the Twins will likely go down the path of a longer-term extension buying out potential arbitration years while also making sure to get team control during free agency as well.

Right now, the Twins don't need to throw all of their chips at Arcia, but it's conceivable that he forces their hand soon. If Target Field is turned into a home run hitting playground by the big lefty, and if Arcia continues his September trends, the discussion is going to take place sooner rather than later. At this point, it's probably more a matter of when, and not if. The key however, is when does Arcia unlock the door.

As Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, and other top prospects make their way to Target Field over the next few months, it will be around that core that the future is built. With the Twins having a handful of strong contributors already at the major league level, there's no doubt that supplementing can be done from within. Starting with Oswaldo Arcia may be a good spot.