The Mariners announced Thursday afternoon that infielder Tommy La Stella has cleared waivers and been released. He’s now a free agent.
Seattle designated the 34-year-old La Stella for assignment earlier in the week when selecting the contract of top pitching prospect Bryce Miller. He’d signed on with the team back in January after being released by the Giants ahead of the third and final season of a three-year contract, but a spring elbow injury had prevented La Stella from playing the field. He’s been limited to DH and pinch-hit duties so far, taking just 24 plate appearances in 12 games over the season’s first month. It was a curious use of a roster spot in the first place, and La Stella’s .190/.292/.238 slash in that span didn’t make the decision look any better.
La Stella was a high-end, contact-oriented utilityman with the Cubs, Angels and A’s from 2016-20, batting a combined .282/.358/.435 in 1061 plate appearances and walking at nearly as high a clip as he struck out (9.6% vs. 10.6%). That strong run helped him land a three-year, $18.75MM deal with the Giants, but things didn’t pan out for La Stella either in San Francisco. His .250/.308/.405 line in 242 plate appearances in 2021 was at least passable, but a hamstring tear limited him to just 76 games. The following season saw La Stella miss time with Achilles and neck injuries, batting just .239/.282/.350 in 195 plate appearances between stints on the injured list.
Health troubles have mounted for La Stella in recent years, but given his track record, contact skills and ability to play multiple positions, another club could still show some interest. He’ll likely need to settle for a minor league deal at this point, particularly since it’s not fully clear when he might again be an option to play defense on a regular basis.