The Giants have placed infielder Tommy La Stella on release waivers, per a team announcement. La Stella, who was designated for assignment late last month, will become a free agent upon clearing. That’s a foregone conclusion, as any team that claimed him would also need to claim the remaining $11.5MM on his contract. Once he’s a free agent, La Stella would only cost a new team the prorated league minimum for any time spent on the Major League roster, however. The Giants would remain on the hook for the remainder of that $11.5MM salary.
La Stella’s placement on release waivers puts an end to a three-year, $18.75MM deal that didn’t pan out at all in the manner the Giants had hoped. At the time of the contract, La Stella was a 31-year-old coming off a four-year platform in which he’d posted a hearty .284/.358/.441 batting line while showing plenty of defensive versatility and elite bat-to-ball skills. For a team like the Giants, that constructs rosters with a heavy focus on positional flexibility, adding La Stella as a viable option at several different spots on the diamond was an appealing move.
Injuries and poor performance, however, torpedoed any value the Giants might’ve hoped to get from the deal. La Stella posted a respectable but diminished .250/.308/.405 batting line in 2021 (93 wRC+) but missed half the season due to a tear in his hamstring. His 2022 season was interrupted by an Achilles injury, a stint on the Covid-related injured list and neck spasms. The extent to which the health troubles impacted La Stella’s performance can’t be known, but the end result was a combined .245/.297/.80 slash in 437 plate appearances with San Francisco.
La Stella’s strikeout rate remained one of the lowest in the game at 12.8%, but that was still considerably higher than the 7.3% strikeout rate he posted in 2020-21. Meanwhile, his walk rate dropped to 6.6% — a notable dip from the 8.6% he’d posted in the two preceding seasons (and the 9.4% mark he’d tallied in the aforementioned 2017-20 stretch).
Once La Stella clears waivers, he’ll add a left-handed bat to the free-agent market — a low-cost option that could be of interest to teams in search of infield help and/or left-handed bats. Teams like the White Sox, Blue Jays, Rays, Tigers, Orioles and Red Sox are among some speculative candidates to take a league-minimum flier on a player with La Stella’s track record.