You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Former SF Giants infielder Tommy La Stella signs with Mariners

Giants Baseball Insider on FanNation logo Giants Baseball Insider on FanNation 1/24/2023 Sean Keane

The SF Giants will be paying Tommy La Stella's $11.5 million salary to be a Mariners' infielder next season.

Think of it as a really delayed trade for Mitch Haniger.

The Seattle Mariners signed former Giant Tommy La Stella to a one-year deal, after SF designated La Stella for assignment back in December, and subsequently released him. With the SF Giants signing Mitch Haniger away from Seattle, it's almost like they swapped La Stella for Haniger, but with the Giants paying the salaries for both players. 

SF Giants infielder Tommy La Stella. (2022) Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports © Provided by Giants Baseball Insider on FanNation SF Giants infielder Tommy La Stella. (2022) Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Farhan Zaidi signed La Stella to an extremely long contract by his standards - three years, and $18.75 million - before the 2021 season. La Stella made the All-Star team as a member of the Los Angeles Angels in 2019, though he broke his leg before he could play in the game. The Giants picked him up after he put up a .281/.370/.449 line with the Angels and A's in 2020, as a utility infielder and platoon partner at second base for Donovan Solano.

But he battled injuries his entire time with the Giants, starting with a knee contusion in spring training. Then he had back tightness, then got a bad hamstring sprain that sent him to the 60-day injured list. While he was rehabbing the hamstring, La Stella fractured his thumb, and didn't come back for three months.

He finished with a pedestrian .250/.308/.405 slash line in 76 games, hitting almost exclusively against right-handed pitching. La Stella was solid in the NLDS against the Dodgers, walking twice and singling three times in 11 plate appearances.

After the season, he had surgery on both Achilles tendons, though at the time everyone thought it was just the left one.

La Stella's appeal at his signing was partly due to his minuscule strikeout rate and decent walk rate, but those didn't continue with the Giants. His strikeout rate went from 4.5% in 2020, to 10.7% in 2021, to 15.4 % in 2022. Meanwhile, his walk rate went down from 10.8% to 7.4% to 5.6%. 

And La Stella couldn't stay healthy. His season didn't start until May 16 due to complication from his surgeries. La Stella missed three weeks on the COVID list, and then he missed more time with neck spasms.

Mariners president Jerry DiPoto said, "We value his versatility and strike zone management skills, as well as what I believe to be a high baseball IQ."

Of course, they also value that the Giants will be paying La Stella's salary, apart from the prorated minimum. He should be able to be a left-handed DH and a backup at second and third base for the Mariners, provided he stays healthy. For the Giants, they only got 136 games out of him in two years, for roughly $138,000 per game. 

Perhaps this will be a lesson for the SF Giants about giving out multi-year contracts to players with extensive injury histories. Well, besides Mitch Haniger. Or Michael Conforto. Or Luke Jackson. Or...


More from Giants Baseball Insider on FanNation

Giants Baseball Insider on FanNation
Giants Baseball Insider on FanNation
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon