Angels Trade Chip – Tommy La Stella (IF)
Here is where things get a little tricky.
Tommy La Stella has become a integral part of the Angels lineup since being acquired in an off-season trade in the winter of 2019. Always a popular bench piece, the Angels gave him a chance to start last season, and he ran with it, putting up a .295/.346/.486 slash line with a career-best 16 home runs, a wRC+ of 122, and a 2.0 fWAR.
That output put him on a lot of teams’ radars, but there was always the wariness that it was such a flash in the pan that his performance wouldn’t be sustainable. However, he’s put those worries to bed in 2020 by hitting .288/.413/.442 with a wRC+ of 146 to start this season.
So why would the Angels be looking to move on from him rather than simply re-signing him this winter? Well, the return of Andrelton Simmons to the lineup may show exactly why.
The aforementioned Simmons is due to return from an ankle injury that he suffered during the team’s first few games. In his absence, David Fletcher has manned shortstop with La Stella handling the everyday duties at second. The plan entering the season was for Fletcher and La Stella to platoon at second base, with the latter also seeing time at first to give Albert Pujols a breather.
If that is indeed the plan moving forward when Simmons returns, La Stella could find himself on the short-end of the playing time. Fletcher has been a huge piece of the offensive picture to start the season and he’s regarded as a much better defender as well. That may make La Stella expendable, enabling the Angels to sell high on a player that cost them next-to-nothing to acquire.
However, if Simmons is the one that gets flipped, La Stella may indeed stay home and potentially be offered an extension by the Angels at an affordable rate.