The Angels announced today that they’ve acquired infielder Tommy La Stella from the Cubs in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. To clear a spot for La Stella on the 40-man roster, the Halos requested unconditional release waivers on outfielder Jabari Blash.
The trade of La Stella to the Angels comes one day after the Cubs acquired infielder Ronald Torreyes in a trade with the Yankees. The pair of moves seems to indicate that Chicago is content to move forward with Torreyes as their primary backup infielder headed into the 2019 season. The swap will also likely save the Cubs a slight bit of money; La Stella is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $1.2MM next season, while Torreyes was projected at $900K. The latter is more of a true utility option anyhow, given his ability to play shortstop — a position that La Stella has never played in the Major Leagues.
From the Angels’ perspective, 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.
Blash, also 29, has displayed light-tower power in the minor leagues but managed just a .186/.306/.307 slash in 324 plate appearances between the Padres and Angels to this point in his MLB career. He’s a lifetime .274/.394/.606 hitter in nearly 1300 Triple-A plate appearances, however, so he could draw interest elsewhere on a minor league contract or, speculatively speaking, from a club overseas.