Tommy La Stella is perfect for Farhan Zaidi, the exact kind of plate-disciplined, flexible fielder Zaidi craves and wants at bat and whose versatility gives him multiple avenues toward being in the lineup.
Tommy La Stella is perfect for this Giants roster, which badly needed a lefty-hitting infielder. Evan Longoria lacked a complement, as did Donovan Solano and Wilmer Flores at second. La Stella also can play some first base, and the Giants did not have a capable lefty bat behind Brandon Belt.
Tommy La Stella, in on a reported three-year pact, is perfect for future Giants rosters because there is no top prospect at second or third base whom he would be blocking. It is possible phenom Marco Luciano has to move from shortstop, but the 19-year-old has not played above short-season ball and has plenty of time to develop. Luis Toribio, a third baseman, is just 20. Will Wilson, 22, might be closest, but the NC State product hasn’t played above Rookie League and bats from the right side anyway, so there would be space for both.
Trevor Bauer would have a bigger impact, and Nelson Cruz or Marcell Ozuna would post gaudier home run totals, but no free agent made more sense this offseason for the Giants than La Stella, who is nearing a deal that has not been made official. When it is announced, the Giants will need to create 40-man roster room, and the potential victims are not ones Zaidi and GM Scott Harris want to part with.
Steven Duggar has played part of three seasons with San Francisco without his bat coming around. Yet, he was a well-regarded prospect who hit at each stage of the minors and whose glove is excellent. He is their best defensive outfielder and a lefty bat behind the righty Mauricio Dubon. Designating Duggar for assignment would further the need for another center fielder, and Jackie Bradley Jr. is the best available.
If not Duggar, Jaylin Davis could be the pick. The Giants have raved about his tools at every turn, a strong-armed, quick-twitch 26-year-old who hit 35 Double- and Triple-A home runs in 2019. Yet his major league contact has resulted too often in ground balls, and the contact in general too often has not been there. As a righty corner outfielder, he’s behind Austin Slater and Darin Ruf (another potential DFA option) in the pecking order. The Giants felt more comfortable with switch-hitting Luis Basabe roaming the outfield late last season and have added young, right-hitting Alexander Canario to the 40-man. (Basabe, too, could be let go.)
If not an outfielder, Chadwick Tromp sticks out after adding Curt Casali, too, this offseason. The Giants’ 40-man is loaded with young, highly regarded but not-ready pitchers and legitimate major leaguers, with only Shaun Anderson as a wild card who might not fit either category.
A goal of Zaidi’s has been to be so deep with talent that letting go of pieces he badly wants is an unfortunate reality. That stage of the rebuild is now here.
The Giants had pegged their offseason needs as in the rotation, with a lefty bat and righty relievers. All are addressed, although perhaps not completely.
They have a projected five-man rotation that has brought back Kevin Gausman and added Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood. They will need more depth and are hunting — they recently watched a showcase with Anibal Sanchez and Julio Teheran — especially with so much unknown about how pitchers will bounce back from last season’s abbreviated schedule. If they hold off until spring training starts, 40-man roster space will be created by placing John Brebbia on the 60-day injured list.
With La Stella and Jason Vosler, they have imported two lefty bats they like but left the center-field hole unresolved. The 30-year-old Bradley is enticing after a season in which his bat caught up to his glove in posting an .814 OPS, but several teams, including the Mets, also are linked with the former Red Sox standout.
With Brebbia (recovering from Tommy John surgery), Matt Wisler and Rule 5 pick Dedniel Núñez, the Giants don’t think they have a righty-relief problem anymore, although free agency is still overflowing with righties who belong in the majors. A few likely will be brought in on minor league deals.
The Giants have fulfilled the vision they set for this offseason, which undoubtedly leaves fans wanting more; this isn’t a roster that can stack up against the Dodgers and Padres. Yet, that would be true if they added Bauer and Ozuna, too. If the playoffs expand again, they have a roster that is better than last season’s, which finished one win short of the postseason.