A’s acquire infielder La Stella in trade with Angels for Barreto

A’s acquire infielder La Stella in trade with Angels for Barreto

The A’s announced on Friday they have traded for infielder Tommy La Stella from the Los Angeles Angels for Franklin Barreto.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was first on the original report

La Stella is having a solid season, slashing .273/.371/.475 with four home runs and 14 RBI. 

“I talked to Billy Eppler (Angels general manager) a lot actually,” A’s general manager David Forst said Friday via conference call. “I told him a while ago that Tommy would probably be on our radar. He’s a really good fit for us right now. One of the best contact rates in the league, a real threat from the left side, a guy with versatility who can play in different spots and just seemed like a real good fit for this lineup.”

Forst mentioned La Stella’s strikeouts, and his rate is at just six percent this season. 

Barreto wasn’t getting a ton of playing time this year and did the typical Barreto thing with falling after a successful spring training. He was part of the already-crowded second base platoon with Vimael Machin, Chad Pinder and Tony Kemp.

“Tony has done a great job and I think having too many good options is never a problem,” Forst said. “Tony was brought over here partly because of his versatility and ability to play in the outfield, so I think we’ll sit down with Bob [Melvin] tomorrow and when Tommy arrives, we’ll figure out what exactly the fit is.”

La Stella’s flight lands about two hours prior to the A’s first game of a doubleheader against the Astros on Saturday which is scheduled for a 3:10 pm CT first pitch. La Stella will be eligible for both games with the hope he can be in the lineup as early as the first game. 

However, there could be an extra designated hitter scenario where La Stella could fit in beautifully. With Khris Davis’ recent struggles, there’s an open spot there for La Stella who has dabbled at the position as well. Plus, his power has risen a bit this season. 

[RELATED: A’s, Astros to make up protested game with DH Saturday]

La Stella earned an AL All-Star selection in 2019 when he slashed .295/.346/.486 with 16 home runs and 44 RBI in 80 games.

La Stella brings an additional lefty bat to the infield, and possibly elsewhere, that the A’s were searching for heading into the season.

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For years, you knew the name Franklin Barreto was coming in the A’s pipeline.

And for the last few seasons, it always felt like the hard-swinging righty was one more showcase away from turning the corner and becoming an everyday player in the big league lineup.

But for a multitude of complex reasons and bad timing, sustained opportunities and that eventual breakthrough for Barreto never arrived. 

Marcus Semien became the unquestioned shortstop. Jed Lowrie was a mainstay at second base, followed by Jurickson Profar, and now Tony Kemp with Chad Pinder.

Barreto understandably struggled with the difficult, limited and irregular roles in between. Especially at the plate. For perspective, since debuting in 2017, his longest stretch of games started with Oakland was 10. That was in late June 2018.

Baretto eventually ran out of options, and was traded Friday to the Los Angeles Angels for veteran infielder Tommy La Stella.

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The deal also signifies the end of A’s lineage to the 2014 Josh Donaldson trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. Sean Nolin, Kendall Graveman, and Brett Lawrie each also never found staying power with the A’s and departed in prior seasons.

Donaldson won the AL MVP in 2015, his first season after being dealt, and has hit 157 over the last six seasons with the Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins

Barreto should find success with the change of scenery alone in Southern California. Plus, the Angels likely have the patience to give him Major League at bats in a hitter-friendly ballpark for the rest of this season.

For Oakland, the outlook on acquiring La Stella is quite positive. He’s another lefty bat who hit 20 points above his career average last year, and is getting on base 30 points higher this season.

He was notably pesky in all 10 games played against the A’s this season.

[RELATED: A’s, Astros walk off field to protest Jacob Blake shooting]

La Stella primarily was hitting second for Angels manager Joe Maddon in Los Angeles, and also started a few games as designated hitter. La Stella could find himself in a similar role in Oakland when facing right-handed pitching. 

Although the A’s are quite deep in position players, La Stella has enough versatility and talent to immediately find his way into a promising role.

La Stella is set to become a free agent after the 2020 season.

It was a sight.

The A’s lined up in front of the visitors dugout at Minute Maid Park, standing opposite from the Houston Astros on Friday. For 42 seconds, in honor of Jackie Robinson, they stood in unified silence. It was something A’s manager Bob Melvin supported from the beginning, even if he still has much to learn.

The A’s and Astros take part in a moment of silence for 42 seconds before heading back to their clubhouses pic.twitter.com/NLGtrhs0aK

— A’s on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 29, 2020

The Astros had approached Melvin earlier and said they planned on boycotting the game due to the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man from Wisconsin. After the team stood for those 42 seconds, they walked off the field. No game would be played at Minute Maid Park on Friday night. 

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The A’s, on Thursday, opted not to play against the Texas Rangers in Arlington. In a joint statement, the players said the reasoning behind the boycott was “to help raise awareness for these social issues, not just tonight, but for our collective future.”

For Melvin, Jackie Robinson Day, which was observed Friday, meant more this time around. Over the last month, he had been learning from members of the team about racial injustice and police brutality. 

“Oh without a doubt every day,” Melvin said after the game was boycotted. “We talk in some form, whether it’s small groups, whether it’s individuals, whether the entire team, and no doubt and I woke up this morning, and — I’ve always known the story of Jackie Robinson, but I had a different view today.”

[RELATED: A’s close book on Donaldson trade by dealing Barreto]

“I was angry today, I was sad, I was all of the above,” Melvin said. “So I was looking forward to putting this jersey on, have the utmost respect for No. 42, and his playing so yes, I see things differently.”

The A’s-Astros will make up the boycotted game as part of a doubleheader on Saturday.