The San Francisco Giants have mostly made moves under the radar this offseason, but the latest SF Giants rumors have the team reaching a three-year deal with free agent second baseman Tommy La Stella.
That would certainly provide the Giants with more pop at second base, but it would appear to push Silver Slugger winner Donovan Solano back into a utility role.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported the agreement Wednesday afternoon.
SF Giants rumors: Tommy La Stella combines pop, bat control
La Stella, who turns 32 on Sunday, was an All-Star with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019, but was replaced due to injury after fracturing his tibia with a foul ball. He did return to play two games in late September of that season.
But in just 321 plate appearances, La Stella slugged 16 home runs while batting .295 with an .832 OPS, numbers that were nothing like what he had done through his first five seasons as a utility infielder with the Atlanta Braves in 2014 and for four seasons with the Chicago Cubs.
Over those five seasons, La Stella went to the plate 947 times and hit 10 homers, batting .264 and posting a .711 OPS.
In 2020, La Stella showed the 2019 breakout wasn’t a fluke, as he hit .281 with an .819 OPS over 228 plate appearances with the Angels and Oakland A’s, who acquired him from Los Anaheim in late August for infielder Franklin Barreto.
Last season, La Stella stroked 14 doubles, two triples and five homers. More than that, however, he doesn’t sacrifice decent power at the plate for control with the bat. La Stella struck out only 12 times last season, while drawing 27 walks, leading the majors with a strikeout rate of just 5.3 percent and with 16.3 strikeouts per at-bat.
He helped Oakland’s run to the AL West title and was 3-for-11 with a walk and two strikeouts in the Wild-Card Series victory over the Chicago White Sox, while going 5-for-16 with a double, a home run and two RBI in the A’s loss to the Houston Astros in the ALDS.
Those were his first postseason hits after he was 0-for-11 in 16 plate appearances in four postseasons with the Cubs from 2015-18.
He’s the first player to get a three-year deal from San Francisco since lefty reliever Tony Watson and while the financial terms have yet to be reported, La Stella is still something of an unproven quantity, with two shortened seasons of All-Star caliber play with five years as a pinch-hitter/spare infielder. This one won’t break the bank, folks.
It’s the highest-profile signing by the Giants this winter, however. They took a flyer on left-hander Alex Wood, who is coming off two injury-riddled seasons, and on right-handed starter Anthony DeSclafani, who struggled the last two seasons with the Cincinnati Reds.
La Stella was an eighth-round pick by the Braves in 2011 out of Coastal Carolina University and made his debut with Atlanta in May 2014. While he’s likely to be a regular for the Giants, he is a career .274 hitter with a .765 OPS in 198 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter.