Although his time with the Chicago Cubs was mixed, thanks mostly to a lack of opportunity (a 104 wRC+ for a part-timer ain’t bad), Tommy La Stella really took off at the plate after he was sent to the Los Angeles Angels before the 2019 season. POP QUIZ: for whom did the Cubs trade La Stella, and how much production did they get?*
With the Angels and A’s in 2019 and 2020, La Stella hit .289/.356/.471/123 wRC+, and parlayed that performance into a three-year, $18.75 million deal with the Giants. Unfortunately La Stella has since hit just .245/.297/.380/86 wRC+ (with his strikeout rate rising and power dropping), dealing with injury issues along the way, and the Giants have decided to move on:
The Giants will have a week to trade, waive, or release La Stella. My guess is he is waived, clears waivers, and ultimately hits free agency, where he’ll likely have to take a minor league deal if he wants to keep grinding.
It’s hard to know what La Stella, who’ll be 34, will be next season. Among his injury issues with the Giants, he had surgery on both of his Achilles, and he always offered something of a limited profile. La Stella is not really playable defensively outside of second base, where his metrics have long been pretty ugly. Mostly, he’s a lefty bat that offers – or at least offered – tons of contact and a little bit of power.
If you’re thinking about a reunion, I’d never say no to a minor league deal for a guy who has shown he can be a quality bat. But if you’re La Stella, are the Cubs the team you’re targeting? Consider that the Cubs already have so many options for second base, from the starter in Nico Hoerner to the utility guys in Christopher Morel and Zach McKinstry to the also-limited-contact-type guy in Nick Madrigal to the upside lefty bat in Miles Mastrobuoni to David Bote, who, yes, is still in the organization.
It is a very crowded group, and the guy(s) who can’t offer anything other than playing at second base would have to be a REALLY impactful bat to have a shot at regular playing time. (We don’t even know what the Cubs are going to do with Madrigal at this point, much less adding another guy.)
Again, a minor league deal is a no-risk situation from the team’s perspective, and you never know for sure what might happen in Spring Training. But it’s hard to see the fit here for an old friend. While we’re on the subject, remember when La Stella got into a prank war with the front office? That was fun.
*(The answer, which I think about a lot, is lefty Conor Lillis-White, who was injured, and never threw a single pitch in the Cubs organization.)