New day, same story. Yet another player who makes a ton of sense for the budget-conscious club on the North Side of Chicago is coming off the board.
Former Chicago Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella is reportedly staying in the Bay Area to play for the San Francisco Giants. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Tuesday night that La Stella was finalizing a three-year contract with the San Francisco Giants. Three years for La Stella may seem like a bit much, but he has flourished since leaving Chicago.
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When he was traded to the Angels after the 2018 season, La Stella unlocked some power, mashing 16 home runs in 80 games before suffering a season-ending injury. In 2020 between the Angels and Oakland, he slashed an impressive .281/.370/.449. Like his power, he has reached another level offensively with wRC+ numbers of 120 and 129 across the last two years.
In four seasons with the Cubs, La Stella posted only 1.9 WAR according to Fangraphs. He passed that in half a season with the Angels in 2019. His bat-to-ball and offensive skill was always his calling card, but he could never seem to take that next step in a Cubs uniform. He was originally drafted by the Braves and made his debut with Atlanta in 2014 before being traded to the Cubs.
A possible reason for his Cubs “struggles” could be traced back to 2016, when he was optioned to Triple-A Iowa but never reported and even contemplated retirement. He was just never comfortable as a Cub and was able to really find himself once he was traded.
For La Stella, it’s great that he was able to find himself and put together a decent career. He will be 32 at the end of the month, and three years is normally a lot for a 32-year-old. He doesn’t have the normal mileage of a player that age, though, and likely has some good years left.
Tommy La Stella has been what the Cubs needed this whole time
The irony of the whole situation is that La Stella was a perfect example of the type of hitter the Cubs need and have been searching for for years, and they traded him. He gets on base and doesn’t strike out. His career10.6 percent strikeout rate shows his discipline skills. In 2020 alone, he walked 11.8 percent of the time while striking out just 5.3 percent.
He has spent time at second base and third base in his career, even getting a handful of looks at first base. Versatility is the name of the game in baseball today, La Stella has it.
It’s a shame the Cubs didn’t go after him again, but after how the first tenure ended, can you blame him for not wanting to play for the team a second time? Plus, the Cubs could have only signed him for one year, or to a minor league deal, and he proved that he can get more than that on the market. I’ll be rooting for him.