CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs acquired left-handed hitting infielder Tommy La Stella from the Atlanta Braves for pitcher Arodys Vizcaino, the team announced on Sunday. Additionally, the Cubs received the Braves' No. 4 international signing bonus slot while Atlanta acquired slots 2, 3, and 4 from the Cubs.
“We tried to trade for him several times in the past,” general manager Jed Hoyer said after the deal was complete. “He’s left-handed, gets on base, and doesn’t strike out a lot. Those are three things we need.”
La Stella, 25, appeared in 93 games as a rookie for the Braves in 2014, starting 86 at second base. He hit .251 with a home run and two steals. He led all National League rookies in walks (36) and on-base percentage (.328). He had a career .407 on-base percentage in four seasons in the minors after being drafted by the Braves in the eighth round in 2011. The Cubs ranked 28th in baseball with a .300 on-base percentage last season.
Hoyer admits the Cubs have a lot of middle infielders as La Stella joins Javier Baez and Starlin Castro on the big league club while top prospect Addison Russell is expected to start 2015 at Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs already converted infielder Arismendy Alcantara to outfield, as well, but the team believes the need for a contact type of hitter outweighed any concerns about who will play where, or if La Stella is a starter or bench player.
“How they fit may not be clear but that was the case with Chris Coghlan last year and he worked his way into the lineup,” Hoyer said.
Coghlan signed a minor-league deal but eventually became the starter in left field. The Cubs have said that Baez is their starter at second base so La Stella will have to do the same as Coghlan: Find playing time. This could also lead to another trade later this offseason.
“This wasn’t a precursor to anything,” Hoyer stated. “Sometimes you have to acquire guys that can get on-base. It’s something we needed.”
Vizcaino, 23, pitched in five games for the Cubs after spending the majority of the season in the minors. He was acquired after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012 as a member of the Braves. He missed all of 2012 and 2013 in recovery.
“We have some depth back there,” Hoyer said. “A bunch of arms stepped forward to allow us to do this deal.”