The Chicago Cubs always have some roster decisions to make. The promotion of one of their top prospect could spell the end for another infielder.
The Chicago Cubs have another healthy roster problem. Earlier, this season, Matt Szczur became the odd man out. Now, it might be infielder Tommy La Stella‘s turn. There’s one main reason why: Ian Happ.
The Cubs are already in a situation where they need to find playing time for guys like Javier Baez, Albert Almora, and Jon Jay. That has been even more complicated with Ian Happ in the lineup everyday. That does not bode well for Tommy LaStella.
Acquired by the Cubs in November 2014 for pitcher Arodys Vizcaino, LaStella has bounced back and forth between the big-league team and Triple-A Iowa. In 2014 with Atlanta, LaStella bad 319 at-bats. In parts of three seasons with the Cubs, he has managed just 238 at-bats.
A bench player without a clear role
Clearly not an everyday player, LaStella has been a valuable bench-player and can play multiple infielder positions. As a Cub, LaStella has slashed .273/.363/.416 with four home runs and 24 RBI. Those numbers aren’t bad for someone with limited playing time (just 238 at-bats). However, guys like those are usually the odd-man out in roster situations and in LaStella’s case, he still had a minor-league option left.
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One of the most attractive traits of LaStella is he is a guy who draws a lot of walks and does not strike out much. In 23 at-bats this season, LaStella has walked eight times and struck out just twice. In his career, LaStella over 635 plate appearances has 67 walks and 76 strikeouts. This is what makes him attractive.
With Happ now with the big-league club, there simply is no place for LaStella. The Cubs already have a very crowded outfield. Happ is an infielder by trade but also takes regular reps in the outfield. As long as Happ stays with the big-league team, LaStella will remain the minors.
LaStella’s time with Cubs ending?
This now brings up the question: Is LaStella’s time as a Cub over? The good news is that the Cubs can still send him up and back from the minors this year so there is no real need to move him like Szczur. Thus, the Cubs probably stash him in the minor leagues. He’d be the first to get called up in case of injury or if someone like Happ struggles and gets sent back down.
However, his future doesn’t like bright beyond this season. The Cubs likely will stash him away at the minors throughout most of the season as insurance. It is hard to see him having much of a future with the Cubs beyond this season. The Cubs could try to trade him at some point this season as well. He probably won’t net much in a trade, but the Cubs need pitching. Trading him for a minor league bullpen arm seems plausible as well.
For now, he’s with the Cubs’ minor-league team but as long as the Cubs remain healthy and Happ stays in the majors, LaStella will remain at Iowa.