Chicago Cubs: Why Daniel Descalso over Tommy La Stella?

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 06: Tommy La Stella
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 06: Tommy La Stella /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs recent move to sign Daniel Descalso makes sense but is a curious move for a team that just unloaded one of their best bench pieces.

Don’t get me wrong. Recent Chicago Cubs acquisition Daniel Descalso is a fine backup infielder – not a great hitter, not a great fielder, but a guy who can give you a solid at-bat and competent defense at spots all over the diamond.

He’s exactly the kind of guy that World Series winners want and need to make the cogs turn and the engine run, especially when teams get mired in the muck during the dog days of summer.

He is also coming off of his best year and has a reputation as a guy who can put together a professional plate appearance on a daily basis.  He’s also on a pretty cheap two-year, $5 million contract that won’t break the bank (even in Chicago, where it seems like we are scrimping and saving every penny now to stay under the “salary cap”).  None of that is really in question.

However, what is in question is the fact that we already had a professional hitter who plays the infield, hits left-handed and set the Cubs’ team record for pinch hits in a season just this past year. Oh, and he’s probably due to make less than $3 million total over the next two seasons.  We traded him. For basically nothing.

Why would we trade Tommy La Stella (2.0 WAR in 947 career plate appearances) to the Angels for essentially nothing but a minor salary dump and pick up another guy, Descalso (2.2 WAR in 2699 PA, almost three times as many as LaStella) who fits essentially the same role and pay him more?

Did the Cubs not value La Stella’s bat? Did they question his ability to play defense? Was someone still annoyed at his “retire or play” bit from 2016?

A guy who can hit just about any time of day (his nickname was 3 a.m., as Joe Maddon once said he could roll out of bed at 3 and get a hit) and play second or third base in a pinch is a fairly nice 25th man on a team that has World Series aspirations

It’s curious, at best, as to why you’d get rid of him since he is so cheap ($1.5 million probable arbitration figure in 2019) and controllable for the long-term.