The SF Giants have announced the signing of infielder Tommy La Stella. The Giants reportedly agreed to a deal with La Stella last week, but no official announcement had been made. A left-handed hitter with a solid defensive track record at third, second, and first base, La Stella fills an obvious hole on the Giants roster. To make space on the 40-man roster, the organization designated Luis Basabe for assignment.
La Stella’s deal spans three-years and includes $18.75 million in guaranteed money. However, he will only receive a $2 million salary in 2021, a $5.25 million salary in 2022, and an $11.5 million salary in 2023. As a part of the contract, La Stella will make annual donations to the Giants community fund amounting to $93,750 over the life of the deal. In a video conference with reporters, Giants president of baseball operations, Farhan Zaidi, suggested that the contract’s unique structure was one that both the Giants and La Stella favored.
For the Giants, the structure enables them to push the bulk of their spending to when the team should have greater revenues. For La Stella, with COVID-19 hanging over the 2021 season and an impending labor dispute that could lead to a shortened or canceled 2022 season, he places the bulk of his potential earnings in the year least likely to be cut short.
The SF Giants finalized the signing of Tommy La Stella and designated Luis Basabe for assignment.
Over the past two seasons, La Stella has appeared in 135 games and taken 549 plate appearances. He’s bashed 21 home runs, walked more than he’s struck out (47 walks to 40 strikeouts), and posted a .827 OPS. He’s been at his best, though, against right-handed pitching, posting a .303/.393/.510 with the platoon advantage in 2020.
The Giants acquired Basabe from the White Sox for cash during last season. A former top-100 prospect in baseball, Basabe remains a potentially elite defensive player with advanced plate discipline. He soon made his big-league debut with the team as a defensive-focused fourth outfielder. In nine games, Basabe made 18 plate appearances and hit .143/.333/.143. Just 24-years old, Basabe could still have a productive big-league career ahead of him but will need to clear waivers to stay in the Giants organization.
Zaidi joked that he had spent an “unhealthy amount of time staring at his [Tommy La Stella’s] 27 walks to 12 strikeout ratio from last year,” admitting something that many SF Giants fans had joked for some time. Perhaps most interesting of all, Zaidi revealed that he expects La Stella “to set a career-high in plate appearances in 2021,” suggesting he will play a more prominent role than some might have expected. La Stella’s career-high is 360 plate appearances.