Tommy La Stella Nearing Deal with Giants as Infield Market Surges, Possibly Impacting Cubs’ Plans

You ever have those nights when you kick back with an adult beverage and just jam to music that takes you back to a better time? Of course you have. I can almost picture Jed Hoyer sitting in his corner office atop the Cubs’ Wrigley-adjacent complex and singing along as Rob Thomas tells him about a woman who thinks that happiness is a mat that sits on her doorway.

Baby, it’s 3 AM, I must be lonely.

That’s all just a long way of saying that former Cub Tommy La Stella, someone who was thought to have been on their radar again before a tsunami of reality crashed ashore, is finalizing a three-year deal with the Giants. That length is a veritable eternity given all the one-year deals being handed out, but La Stella is 32 and surely wants a little security after a solid season with the Angels and Athletics.

Though terms of the deal aren’t yet available, it’s a good bet La Stella will easily exceed MLB Trade Rumors’ projection of $14 million over two years. That’s been a trend thus far, as 16 of the top 50 free agents who’ve signed this winter have gotten more than predicted. Way more in some cases.

Even adding those who’ve gotten the same or a little less, either in time or annual value, the 26 men in that group who’ve signed so far have gotten more total years and money. It comes out to only 0.12 more years per deal, but with an AAV that’s around $1.15 million greater. Though La Stella could get around $24 million under that logic, I’m guessing it’s closer to $20 million.

Regardless, it’s far too rich for the Cubs’ blood at this point. And while the same is true for two other infielders who signed Tuesday, neither of whom were on the Cubs’ radar, those moves could impact Jed Hoyer’s plans to some extent. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons got $10.5 million for one season with the Twins and Marcus Semien is joining the Blue Jays on a one-year deal that will pay him $18 million.

Both Minnesota and Toronto have been linked to Kris Bryant recently, with the former as little more than a hypothetical destination and the latter actually engaging the Cubs in conversation that hasn’t necessarily yielded any traction. The recent developments may have put the kibosh on any additional talk about either.

Simmons will play short for the Twins, pushing Jorge Polanco to second as Luis Arraez continues to play all over. As long as Josh Donaldson remains healthy, he’s an excellent third baseman. He’s also one of just five players in MLB with more fWAR than Bryant since the start of the 2015 season, and it’s only by one-tenth of a point. The Twins don’t seem likely to swing a trade for Bryant at this point.

According to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, the Blue Jays plan to use Semien at second while sliding Cavan Biggio over to third on a regular basis. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. wants to get reps at the hot corner as well and still may on occasion, but he’s primarily a first baseman/DH. That seemingly removes the Jays from the Bryant conversation, as they’ve now filled third base and spent nearly as much on a one-year deal in the process.

If you put any stock in “informed speculation,” this all sees the Mets emerging as the most likely trade partner with the Cubs. Or maybe it means there aren’t any trade partners at all right now. Unless we’re pivoting to the catching market, where JT Realmuto’s $115.5 million deal with the Phillies could spur demand for Willson Contreras.

Reports from earlier in the offseason were that Hoyer might try to market the All-Star, whose $6.65 million salary is an absolute steal, to teams that missed out on Realmuto. That might include the Blue Jays, Nationals, and Braves, none of whom lasted in the bidding. The Marlins reportedly talked about adding Contreras to complement their young pitching staff, and the Angels were also said to be showing interest.

Speculation aside, what we know at this point is that the market is trending higher than the most optimistic folks thought while the Cubs are spending much less than even the most pessimistic prognosticators predicted. That’s not a great combo for a team that doesn’t even seem able to cobble together deferred deals like those the Nationals keep signing.

And she says, baby, it’s 3 AM I must be lonely. Yeah when she says, baby, well I can’t help but be scared of it all sometimes. And the rain’s gonna wash away, I believe this.

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