The Cubs today traded infielder Tommy La Stella to the Los Angeles Angeles for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
La Stella played 123 games for the Cubs last season and hit .266/.340/.331 over 192 at-bats. In the field, La Stella is primarily a second baseman who can also play third, but with the Cubs he primarily served as a pinch-hitter over the past few seasons. He set a Cubs all-time single-season record with 24 pinch-hits in 77 at-bats in 2018. That’s a .312 batting average. La Stella’s ability to pinch-hit earned him the nickname “3 AM” after a comment by manager Joe Maddon in 2016 that La Stella could roll out of bat at three in the morning and still get a hit.
The Cubs acquired La Stella from the Atlanta Braves in November of 2014 for Arodys Vizcaino. While his ability to hit off the bench had made him a fan favorite in recent years, the Cubs and La Stella had a rocky moment in August of 2016 when, despite solid numbers at the major league level, the team demoted La Stella to Iowa to free up space on the major league roster. La Stella refused to report to Triple-A. The standoff lasted for two weeks until La Stella was recalled ahead of the September roster expansion. La Stella insisted his refusal to report to Iowa wasn’t about being angry over the move but rather his questioning how much he still enjoyed playing baseball. But the incident was soon forgotten and La Stella did make the playoff roster for the the first round of the playoffs against the San Francisco Giants in 2016, although he did not make the roster for the NL Championship Series or the World Series. He has been on the playoff roster for both 2017 playoff series and the 2018 Wild Card game.
The move to trade La Stella comes one day after the Cubs re-acquired Ronald Torreyes, a similar player who is slated to earn less money in 2019. However, it’s not a huge savings so the move is likely more about getting a younger player with more defensive flexibility as the last man on the bench.
The move probably means more playing time in the field for La Stella in Anaheim than he was getting in Chicago.
Good luck to La Stella in Orange County. As one of the heroes who snapped the 108-year World Series drought, he’ll always be welcome back at Wrigley Field.