The interesting twist there is that the Mariners organization is where Ortiz started his professional career. No, not his big-league career. He was most notable for the Mariners as a footnote in a trade.
On Aug. 29, 1996, the Mariners acquired infielder Dave Hollins from the Twins for a player to be named later. And then on Sept. 13, the Mariners sent a kid then known as David Arias to the Twins.
At the time, Arias had come off hitting .322/.390/.511 with 34 doubles, 18 homers and 93 RBI in 129 games for Class A Wisconsin. Promising for sure, but awfully far away from the majors.
Hollins did hit .351/.438/.479 in 113 plate appearances for the Mariners in ’96, but they missed the playoffs. Hollins would sign with the Angels in the offseason and the Mariners had no idea at the time just how much they gave up.
Of course, they didn’t do nearly as poorly as the Twins when it came to the man we now know as Big Papi. He made his MLB debut in 1997 as David Ortiz and would hit .266/.348/.461 (108 OPS+) with 108 doubles and 58 homers in what amounted to roughly three seasons worth of plate appearances with the Twins from 1997-2002.
Coming off a 2002 season in which Ortiz hit .272 with an .839 OPS (120 OPS+) with 32 doubles and 20 homers in 412 at-bats, he was released by the Twins in a bit of a roster squeeze. A few weeks later, a new young GM named Theo Epstein signed Ortiz to join the Red Sox.
And the rest is history.
It’s amazing how these things transpire sometimes. Most moves with a “player to be named later” don’t end up sending a player that amounts to much. Every once in a while, you get one that stands out, though (Michael Brantley was one!). It’s fair to say David Ortiz is one of the greatest players to be named later of all time. It happened 20 years ago today.
Source: CBS Sports / On this date 20 years ago, David Ortiz was a ‘player to be named later’ in a trade