While it wasn’t a headline-grabbing move, the acquisition of Tommy La Stella could help the Cubs this season. He’s a player who GM Jed Hoyer has thought highly of for some time now.
"“We tried to trade for him several times in the past,” Hoyer said in November after exchanging La Stella for pitcher Arodys Vizcaino. “He’s left-handed, gets on base, and doesn’t strike out a lot. Those are three things we need.” h/t Jesse Rogers, ESPNChicago.com"
The 26-year-old second baseman played 93 games in his first Major League season with the Braves. He hit .251 with a .644 OPS. He is a contact hitter, shown by his batting average (.320) and strikeout percentage (8.3%) in his minor league career.
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But the most important stats about La Stella are his numbers with runners on base. La Stella hit .545 in 11 AB with the bases loaded and .300 in 70 AB with at least one runner in scoring position. To compare with the Cubs last season, these numbers would put him near the top in both categories. As a whole, the Cubs were bottom three in BA with runners in scoring position (.223) and bases loaded situations (.200).
Where La Stella gets his at-bats will be the biggest question. With only time played at second base, and few DH appearances in interleague games, the Cubs may need to get creative with him. questions still surround Javier Baez entering camp, so there are no guarantees there. The same applies to his backup Arismendy Alcantara, who will also have something to prove this spring.
Worst case scenario the Cubs will have vertical depth with La Stella, adding to an already impressive middle infield support group in the organization. How things play out will depend largely on others performance this spring as much as it will La Stella.