The Aug. 31 MLB trade deadline is rapidly approaching yet we still have no real idea of what the playoff picture could possibly look like. With 16 teams making the postseason this year, almost every team in the league has at least somewhat of a chance at this point. With the exception of a handful of teams like the Red Sox, Pirates and Mariners, most teams could be looking to buy.
Sitting at 8-18 as of Friday, The Los Angeles Angles are looking like clear sellers. Despite having Mike Trout, the undisputed best player in baseball, the Los Angeles Angels simply cannot find a way to be a competitive baseball team. While a lot believe do-it-all infielder David Fletcher could get dealt, the Angels still have him under team control through the 2024 season, so I think it’s unlikely he’ll get shipped out unless someone blows them away with an offer.
The player much more likely is second baseman Tommy La Stella who is due to be a free agent after this season. La Stella is hitting a very solid .284/.372/.494 this season, following up his 2019 All-Star campaign with perhaps an even better season. It seems like a no-brainer for the Angels to trade him away to get at least something out of him rather than just let him walk for free this offseason, and a lot of teams could use a versatile infielder with a good bat.
— Anaheim Sports (@AnaheimSports1) August 18, 2020
One team I really like for La Stella is the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies are in an interesting spot this season as not many expected them to be competitive, but here they are at 13-12 and in third place in the NL West. They’re just 2-8 in their last ten two, so if they want to prove their start to the season wasn’t a fluke, La Stella could fill their biggest offensive hole. Right now at second they’ve got Ryan McMahon, who now in his third full(ish) season in the bigs is hitting .225/.330/.475, which isn’t terrible, but La Stella could be much more consistent. McMahon could still play some first base when Daniel Murphy needs a day off or has a bad matchup and La Stella could slide in full-time at second. The Rockies likely won’t catch the Dodgers, but luckily for them, they don’t have to. They just need to finish second in the division to make the playoffs, and in that case, they’re just one game back of the Padres. La Stella could provide that extra push they need to get a playoff spot.
Speaking of the Padres, they could also use him. Right now they’ve got rookie Jake Croneworth at second, and while he has gotten off to a hot start in his MLB career (21-for-65) who knows if he can keep that pace up. It would also eliminate the need for Jurickson Profar, who is hitting a measly .198/.301/.358 so far this season — and that’s not that much worse than what he did in an entire season last year. La Stella and Croneworth could split time at second or La Stella could take over most of the duties for the remainder of the season and then the Padres could just let him walk, giving Croneworth the job for next season. But if San Diego is serious about competing, handing the reigns of second base to La Stella for a playoff push might not be a bad idea.
The Washington Nationals are another possible spot seeing as they just lost their starting second baseman, Starlin Castro, for the foreseeable future due to a broken wrist. At 9-12 and in fifth in the division, the defending champs aren’t off to the hottest start, but believe it or not they’re just three games back from the Braves in first. Right now they’ve got Luis Garcia, the No. 2 prospect in their system, in the starting spot. He’s played well in his first couple of games, going 6-for-17 at the plate with a homer and four RBIs, and the plan is probably to roll with him until Castro returns. However, if they wanted to look for a more established, veteran option, La Stella would be a great way to go.
Tommy La Stella has done nothing but rake since he came over to the #Angels before the 2019 season. Since then:
— Brent Maguire (@bmags94) August 18, 2020
Meanwhile, the division leader Atlanta Braves are in a very similar situation. As of right now, they have a combination of Adeiny Hechavarría and Charlie Culberson manning second base, neither of whom are very good. Until Ozzie Albies returns from the IL, they need a solution, and La Stella could be it. Even when Albies returns, La Stella could slide over to third, as both Austin Riley and Johan Camargo have struggled so far this season. In a division where all five teams are within three games of each other, adding La Stella could help the Braves hold off the competition and keep control of first place.
Heading over to the American League, there really is just one team that clearly needs him more than any other, and that is the Chicago White Sox. Right now they have Danny Mendick there, and his .262/.303/.393 slash isn’t terrible for a replacement, but he’s clearly not the long-term solution there. The long-term solution is Nick Madrigal, but seeing as he’s on the IL right now, La Stella could be huge for them. At 15-11, the White Sox are in third place in the AL Central, just one and a half games back from Cleveland in second and two games back from Minnesota in first, so it’s anyone’s division right now. La Stella could help get them over the hump for this season and help establish them as a top team in the division.