There is plenty of value in playing out the string on a somewhat lost season by letting young players get consistent, everyday at-bats.
Gabriel Arias is one of those players currently benefitting from the regular playing time, opening up this writer's eyes at least to the possibility of a useful role on the Cleveland Guardians moving forward.
Since August 12, Arias is slashing .284/.321/.500 with four home runs, four doubles, and 11 RBI over 20 games. That's the type of production the Guardians have no doubt been hoping for from the prospect who was acquired as part of the Mike Clevinger deal with San Diego in 2020.
Arias is still striking out too much, though. A 35 percent strikeout rate is unsustainable for just about anyone, and it'll no doubt hurt him in the long run if he can't cut that number down. But if Arias is able to even bring that strikeout percentage to just under 30 percent, that would go a long way to making him productive on a regular basis as opposed to the fits and starts we've been seeing.
Much like the recent maturation of Bo Naylor, getting Arias these regular at-bats is crucial for figuring out kind of player the Guardians have and whether he fits into the team's future plans, especially when it comes to the jam-packed infield situation. There will be plenty of growing pains - Arias is just as susceptible to an ice-cold stretch over 20 games - but every now and then there is that glimpse of what made him such a highly-touted prospect in the first place.
And with this promising stretch to end the season, there's a good chance Arias is playing his way into a major role in 2024, which might just free up another middle-infield prospect as potential trade bait for, oh, let's say... an outfielder.