The Mariners introduced that they’ve signed an infielder Tommy La Stella to a one-year deal. To create room on the 40-man roster, left-hander Justus Sheffield was designated for task.
La Stella, who turns 34 later this month, has some robust seasons on his monitor file however is coming off a tough patch. From 2016 to 2020, he walked in 9.6% of his journeys to the plate and struck out in simply 10.6% of them. He solely hit 29 house runs over these 5 years however produced a batting line of .282/.358/.435. That manufacturing amounted to a wRC+ of 114, indicating he was 14% higher than the league common.
He parlayed that robust run of play right into a three-year, $18.75MM contract with the Giants going into 2021. Unfortunately, issues began going poorly for La Stella as quickly because the ink dried on that deal. He solely bought into 76 video games in 2021 attributable to varied illnesses and hit simply .250/.308/.405 for a wRC+ of 93. He underwent achilles surgical procedure in October, which was initially reported as occurring on his left achilles however was reported nearly a 12 months later to have been on each of them, per Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic.
Things bought even worse in 2022, as accidents restricted him to only 60 video games on the season and he spent most of these as a delegated hitter. He solely took the sector for 76 innings all 12 months, getting temporary quantities of time at first, second and third base. He hit simply .239/.282/.350 for a wRC+ of 78. Although there was nonetheless one 12 months left on his contract, the Giants minimize bait and launched him.
That makes this primarily a no-risk transfer for the Mariners, for the reason that Giants are on the hook for the $11.5MM that is nonetheless owed to La Stella. The M’s pays him the prorated league minimal for any time he is on the roster, with that quantity being subtracted from San Francisco’s tab.
Although La Stella hardly took the sector final 12 months, he performed extra second base than wherever else in his profession. The Mariners have been trying to bolster their center infield this offseason and already did so by buying and selling for Kolten Wong. If the membership views La Stella as a viable defender, he doubtlessly provides them some additional cowl there whereas including a left-handed bat into their place participant combine. Some of the golf equipment most evident designated hitter candidates are right-handed, corresponding to Teoscar Hernandez and AJ Pollock. La Stella hits from the left aspect and has conventional platoon splits, having produced a 105 wRC+ in opposition to righties however simply an 87 in opposition to lefties.
Although there is no actual monetary value for the M’s, they’re paying the worth of probably dropping Sheffield, who turns 27 in May. He was a primary spherical choice of Cleveland in 2014 however was traded twice in headline-grabbing offers. He went to the Yankees in 2016 as a part of the Andrew Miller commerce after which went to Seattle within the 2018 James Paxton deal, ceaselessly showing on high prospect lists at the moment as effectively.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t been capable of dwell as much as that pedigree to date. He’s pitched 186 innings over the previous 5 seasons however has only a 5.47 ERA to indicate for it. He’s gotten grounders at a wholesome 49.5% clip however his 18.2% strikeout fee and 10.6% stroll fee are each worse than the league common. He hasn’t been faring significantly better within the minors both. He made 24 begins for Triple-A Tacoma final 12 months and posted a 6.99 ERA in that point. The Rainiers play within the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League however his fee stats have been all pretty just like his massive league work and superior defensive metrics have been solely barely kinder, corresponding to a 6.27 FIP and 5.64 xFIP.
It appears these poor outcomes have been sufficient to push him off Seattle’s roster. They will now have one week to commerce him or move him by way of waivers. He nonetheless has one possibility 12 months remaining and simply over two years of service, which may make him interesting to a membership that thinks he can recapture the shape that made him such a touted prospect.