Except everything you say isn't really true. His amazing second half is fully dependent on July. His Aug/Sept OPS was below .800, just like his pre-July OPS was below .700. He was streaky. He never had much success as a Twin, they were replacing him with a guy who was a better ranked prospect and had been destroying AAA. Ortiz had pop.
And, as I just posted, the Twins gave raises to 10 guys and signed Rogers. They increased payroll by 15m. So it isn't clear that they could "easily have found 1.5 mil" for Ortiz.
So a .795 OPS in "down" months is the mark of a bad player? That alone would have ranked 5th on the team in OPS.
LeCroy was almost exactly the same age as Ortiz. He was only a better-ranked prospect when he was still a minor league catcher which was already 3 years prior. Ortiz had almost as many MLB PA through age 22 as LeCroy through age 26, and they were much better PA. And LeCroy was the short side of a platoon.
In a business where even the small-market Twins were doling out $55 million per year in player salaries, yes, finding an extra $1.5 million is not that big of a deal. If Terry Ryan thought that David Ortiz wouldn't be worth $1.5 million in 2003, he was wrong, and if the Twins budget was so inflexible that Ryan couldn't add $1.5 million for a player he thought was worth it, well that's such a terrible business model in this sport I don't know where to begin.