The A’s should really try to re-sign Tommy La Stella to a new contract this offseason

UPDATE: 10 mins after I published this, Susan Slusser reported Matt Chapman is out for the year, nooooo! Wonder if La Stella will play more at third base.


It’s funny how you can get familiar with a guy playing for a divisional opponent, but still not truly appreciate him ’til you watch him every day. That’s how I feel about Tommy La Stella after seeing him in the green and gold for 10 games. 

He played 23 contests, including 10 this year, against the A’s during his season-plus with the Halos. But when I thought of the Angels, I didn’t really think of La Stella. I thought about that damn David Fletcher, Mike Trout, obviously, and more recently about how good Anthony Rendon is going to be for the next few years. Also that Shohei Ohtani guy and cement-footed Albert Pujols.

But La Stella low-key flew under the radar. Whenever I saw him holding a runner on first base and camera zoomed in a bit, I always thought, ‘Hmm, that guy looks like Brandon Belt’s cousin.’ Otherwise not much.

Now I see why Trout looked so devastated in the dugout when La Stella told his teammates he got traded a couple weeks ago.

La Stella was having a monster campaign in 2019 before breaking his leg in Jermaine Dye-esque fashion, with a foul ball that pinged directly off his right shin. He slashed .300/.353/.495 with 16 dingers, 44 ribbies, and his Billy Beane-drool-worthy 20/27 walk/strikeout ratio in 80 games before coming back for nine late-season at-bats.

In 44 at-bats with the A’s, he’s slashing .282/.341/.385 with six ribbies and a 4/6 BB/K ratio. In a feast or famine lineup that lives by the dinger, he might as well be batting .382. Not to mention he touts a remarkable 5.0% strikeout rate, by far the best in baseball. For context, only Nolan Arenado (8.4%) and Didi Gregorious (9.1%) are also in single digits.

Friday’s game served as a perfect example of what he’s capable of. Down in an 0-2 count, La Stella slapped away a decent pitch to the opposite field to drive home a run.

Later in the game he also added an insurance run with a (perhaps lucky) sac fly down the left-field line.

Bat aside, you know Bob Melvin absolutely loves La Stella’s versatility on the infield. He’s primarily a second baseman but can handle first base and third base as well.

Without Chapman, I’d count on him being in the mix along with Chad Pinder and Vimael Machin at the hot corner.

Throughout the years, BoMel has also utilized those guys like Ben Zobrist and Jed Lowrie, and La Stella fits the mold perfectly. Also, if he connected on this behind-the-back throw he’d be getting even more love from A’s fans than he already is.

For the short term, this probably means a lot less playing time for Tony Kemp, who also hits from the left side and plays second base. For the offseason, the front office better sign La Stella, who is set to become a free agent.

How much will he cost?

I reckon La Stella is about to get paid. I’m bad with contract forecasting but I’d assume he’ll get some offers for 4-year deals with $10+ million average annual value.

It’s too bad his 2019 was derailed because he likely would have earned much more than the $3.25 million he got from the Angels to avoid arbitration before 2020. The 31-year-old was a fan favorite with the Cubs, where he won a ring in 2016 and set a team record in 2018 with 24 pinch hits while earning the nickname “3 a.m.” from Joe Maddon, because he could wake up at 3 a.m. and still get you a hit.

He looks like a late bloomer and he’s familiar with both leagues, so you can be sure there will be plenty of suitors for La Stella. Unless he absolutely falls in love with Oakland (it won’t be for the facilities) I realistically don’t see the A’s winning any sort of bidding war for his services. For now, I’d go into the rest of this season thinking of La Stella as an awesome late-season rental who can hopefully help in the playoffs.