The Seattle Mariners made another move on Thursday when they announced the signing of veteran utility infielder Tommy La Stella to a one-year contract. The Mariners had been talking about adding another infielder to their roster, and La Stella fits that role, even though he is not as sexy of a signing as Carlos Correa or Trea Turner.
Last season Tommy La Stella only played in 60 games due to multiple injuries that landed him on the Injured List three times. Due to his injuries, he only played 12 games on the field in 2022. La Stella played six games at third base, three at second base, and three at first. His other 43 games came at the designated hitter spot. He was not a regular in 2022, but based on his career and age, he will probably be a rotational player again for Seattle in 2023.
At the plate in 2022, he had a career-low wRC+ of 78 and a career-low wOBA of .277. However, these numbers came in a small sample size in a year where La Stella was aging and was dealing with injuries from the beginning of April on. His batted ball data does not look different compared to the last few seasons. His average exit velocity is still around 88 or 89 miles per hour and he didn't barrel up as many balls in 2022. If he can find the barrel a little more he will be just fine.
He is not going to come in and take away at-bats from Ty France, Kolten Wong, Dylan Moore, or Eugenio Suarez when they should be the ones getting the at-bats. However, he can give Suarez a day off when a tough righty is on the mound. He can give France a day off when Ohtani is on the mound against the Mariners. His left-handed bat gives the Mariners bench more flexibility because he can be average against right-handed pitching.
For his career, La Stella has a 105 wRC+ against righties, so he can come fill in occasionally for the right-handed hitters in the Mariners lineup to give them an extra day off every week to keep them fresh and performing their best throughout the season. La Stella signing in Seattle also means that Dylan Moore shouldn't get any time against right-handed pitching, which he struggles against.
Overall, adding a veteran who has been to the playoffs multiple times and has won a World Series ring with the Chicago Cubs is a positive. He also will be an average bench contributor, who can help spell the righties in the Seattle lineup. He helps improve the floor of the team, and signing him comes with practically no risk because the 33-year-old is not going to be making any significant money, and could be designated for assignment if it isn't working out for the Mariners.