The American League West champion Athletics’ postseason got off to a less-than-ideal start Tuesday with a loss to the Lucas Giolito-led White Sox, who held the A’s to just three hits in a 4-1 defeat. One of those hits came from infielder Tommy La Stella, whom the A’s could see depart in free agency once their season ends, though they’re interested in re-signing him.
Oakland executive vice president Billy Beane lavished praise on La Stella this week, saying (via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle), “I’ve known about La Stella going back to the Braves (2014), but you don’t realize how good this guy is until you see him on an everyday basis, he just puts a good at-bat on you every single time.”
As far as possibly retaining La Stella goes, Beane stated: “I would normally say, ‘We’ll deal with it at the end of the season.’ But based on what I just said about him — well, you’d be crazy not to put him at the top of your list. I normally kind of hedge on everything because you never know, but goodness, he’s been so impressive it would behoove us to put him at the top of the list, at least have a discussion with him.”
The Athletics paid a fairly high price for La Stella when they acquired him from the division-rival Angels before the July 31 deadline, as they gave up former top infield prospect Franklin Barreto in a one-for-one deal. Barreto never got much of a chance to establish himself in Oakland, whereas La Stella broke out as an Angel a year ago and has kept that momentum going between the Halos and A’s this season. The soon-to-be 32-year-old has slashed .289/.353/.483 with 20 home runs over 438 plate appearances dating back to 2019.
Along with providing well-above-average offensive production since last year, La Stella has logged a significant amount of innings at second and third, which should up his earning power if he reaches free agency. If La Stella stays with the A’s, he probably won’t get much playing time going forward at the hot corner, where Matt Chapman should return from hip surgery in 2021. On the other hand, there’s far less certainty for Oakland at the keystone. La Stella has been the team’s top producer there, outdoing Tony Kemp and Chad Pinder.