The Halos have acquired infielder Tommy La Stella from the Chicago Cubs for $100,000 or a player to be named.
La Stella has spent the past four seasons with the Cubs. He batted .266 in 2018 while appearing in a career-high 123 games this year. He led the major leagues in pinch hits (24) and batting average (.312) while his 11 RBIs tied for the big league high. He has a .264 average in five major league seasons.
The Angels released outfielder Jabari Bush to make room for La Stella on the 40-man roster. Blash split time with the Angels and Padres last season. With the Padres he hit 5 home runs, 16 RBIs, and batted .213 in 164 at bats. He also struck out 66 times. With the Angels, he was even worse. He only had 39 at bats but only 4 hits and 24 strikeouts. He had a lot of pop in AAA but couldn’t carry that over into the big leagues.
According to mlbtraderumers.com, “Adding La Stella is a sensible move. His composite .274/.360/.396 batting line through 512 plate appearances over the past three seasons fits general manager Billy Eppler’s preferred mold of an OBP-driven offensive profile, and La Stella provides the Angels with a much-needed left-handed bat. La Stella, 30 in January, can give the Angels some cover at both second base and at third base next season, and the Angels have enough right-handed bats to comfortably platoon him if they desire. Then again, while La Stella was always shielded from left-handed pitching in Chicago, he does have a solid .278/.366/.383 batting line against lefties in his career — albeit in a tiny sample of 133 plate appearances.”
In 2017, La Stella had limited opportunities but was successful in the times that he did play. He batted .288 with 5 home runs, 8 doubles, and 22 RBIs with a .389 on base percentage in only 125 at bats.
The 29-year old from Westwood, New Jersey made his debut with the Braves on May 28, 2014 while playing against the Red Sox. He began his career going 2-for-4. He went to high school at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, New Jersey and then went to college at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina.
Atlanta drafted La Stella in the eighth round in 2011, he debuted with the Braves three years later, then was acquired by the Cubs that offseason.
Here are just a few reactions from fans on Twitter:
- “As an Angels fan from Chicago, this is good news. La Stella never got much playing time since he was behind a lot of other great INFers at Wrigley, good fit with ANA.”
- “Angels fans complaining about getting the best pinch hitter in baseball. La Stella is a beast.”
- “Y’all got the best pinch hitter in baseball and a hardworking sweet dude.. take care of him for us.”
- “Liked him as a Brave. Rooted for him as a Cub. Will continue to do so as an Angel.”
I think it’s safe to say that the Angels picked up a decent player. The Halos finally got a left handed bat off the bench that can get on base. In the process, they got rid of a player that had a lot of home run potential but couldn’t avoid striking out. Eppler’s original goal was to focus on players that got on base and didn’t waste their at bats. This double switch is one step in the right direction.
Featured Image: Tommy LaStella/Yahoo Sports