When the offseason begins, expect the Cubs to give Tommy La Stella a call.
Yet again, the Chicago Cubs displayed a broken offense late in the season and it cost them dearly, suffering a two-game sweep at the hands of the Miami Marlins in the NL Wild Card Series.
Driven by a three true outcome approach, the team’s big hitters fell silent – and despite strong efforts from Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish, Chicago made another early postseason exit. The team won its third NL Central title in five years but that did little to satiate a fanbase that saw 2020 as an all-or-nothing chase for another World Series championship.
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“We have not performed up to our expectations offensively,” Theo Epstein said earlier this week, “and especially at the most important times of year. And sort of simply hoping for a better outcome moving forward doesn’t seem like a thoughtful approach. So, embracing some change, even significant changes, is warranted.”
As a team, the Cubs ranked 18th in MLB in terms of OBP (.318) this season. That’s down 13 points from their 2019 performance and 15 from 2018. In short, there were some major issues with the team trying to manufacture runs.
Last offseason, Epstein brought in former Cleveland Indians standout Jason Kipnis to shore up the team’s depth at second base. All told, he performed well, putting up a 101 OPS+ and a 0.6 WAR across 135 plate appearances, but it seems likely the Cubs could look to bring back a former fan favorite if the numbers line up this winter.
Since leaving Chicago and getting regular at-bats, Tommy La Stella has emerged as a high quality offensive player for the Angels and Athletics. Over the last two seasons, he’s slashed .289/.356/.471 in 135 games, good for a 122 OPS+.
Of course, the Cubs traded La Stella two offseasons ago and went with Daniel Descalso at second heading into last season. That experiment ended disastrously as injuries kept Descalso off the field for almost the entirety of his two-year deal with the club.
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We all know that ownership isn’t likely to increase payroll in 2021. The financial landscape of the game (and the world for that matter) is too uncertain. But La Stella shouldn’t break the bank and he fits the bill perfectly for what the front office should be looking for in hopes of shaking up a lineup that failed to deliver once again in 2020.