Farhan Zaidi has been shy about giving out long-term deals, but reports say he made one as he added a second baseman to the Giants roster to a 3-year deal.
UPDATE Feb. 4th: The Giants has made the La Stella signing official. The contract is for three years and is worth$18.75 million, but is very backloaded. La Stella will earn $2 million in 2021, $5.25 million in 2022, and $11.5 million in 2023. To make a roster spot available for La Stella, the Giants designated Luis Alexander Basabe for assignment.
The Giants have reportedly signed Tommy La Stella, 32, who played for the Oakland A’s and Anaheim Angels in 2020. La Stella gives the Giants a left-handed patient bat for their lineup who showed a bit of pop in 2019 despite a broken leg.
In 2020, La Stella combined for a .281/.370/.449 batting line in 55 games for both AL West teams, having played his first 28 with the Angels before being traded, and then 27 games with Oakland. He hit 14 doubles, two triples, and five home runs on the season, but the eye opening stats are about his strikeouts and walks, where he walked 27 times in 228 plate appearances (11.8% walk rate), and struck out just 12 times (5.2%).
In 2019 with the Angels, La Stella played just 80 games, but hit 16 home runs and eight doubles. That season, he walked 20 times and struck out 28 times.
In the 2020 season, second base was handled by Donovan Solano, who hit .326/.365/.463 in 54 games, with 15 doubles and three home runs, and won the NL Silver Slugger for second base. Solano and the Giants are currently in arbitration, as 2021 will be Solano’s last year before arbitration. Solano filed for $3.9 million, while the Giants offered $3.25 million. The two may still reach a deal before dealing with the arbiter, as the Giants rarely have done that under either Zaidi or Brian Sabean.
Zaidi talked about adding a left-handed bat to the lineup, and La Stella fits as an answer. It’s not clear how he will fit with the team. The Giants could use him and Solano as platoon partners at second, although La Stella’s platoon split is more dramatic than Solano’s. Solano can also play at third base, where he could platoon with and spell Evan Longoria.
La Stella is not known for his defense, and his arm may be more of a liability defensively at the hot corner. The Giants also signed minor league third baseman Jason Vosler in the offseason, who had a big year in Triple-A in 2019, and as a left-handed batter could also platoon with Longoria.
In 2019, the Giants traded with the Angels for 2019 first round pick Will Wilson, a shortstop who likely will move to second base long term. The prospect last played in short-season A-Ball in 2019, and his development could take 2-3 years before he is ready for the Majors, so La Stella will not be competing for playing time with any top prospects for the majority of his contract he won’t be competing for playing time with any of the Giants’ top prospects.