A's acquire La Stella, send Barreto to Angels

August 29th, 2020

The A’s doubled down on their World Series aspirations by adding another bat to an already potent offense.

With only a few days before Monday's Trade Deadline at 1 p.m. PT, the A’s struck a deal with the Angels on Friday night by acquiring versatile infielder and 2019 All-Star in exchange for second baseman . La Stella joined the A’s in Houston, and he's expected to be in the starting lineup for the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Astros.

La Stella, 31, has received playing time at first, second and third base for the Angels this season. On an A’s club that has seen stagnant production at second base -- Chad Pinder and Tony Kemp are hitting a combined .228 with two home runs and seven RBIs in a platoon at the position -- La Stella should get most of his starts at second. In 28 games for Los Angeles this year, La Stella is slashing .273/.371/.475 with four home runs and 14 RBIs.

“He’s a good left-handed bat that has given us a lot of trouble in the past,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He could potentially DH on a day or play second. We’ll fit him in there some way."

A’s general manager David Forst said he remained in contact with Angels GM Billy Eppler for the past couple of weeks before coming together on a deal. The most attractive part of La Stella’s game for the A’s was his low strikeout rate -- the lowest of any player in baseball at just 6%, representing a stark contrast to an A’s club that leads the Majors in strikeouts.

“I told [Billy] a while ago that Tommy would probably be on our radar,” Forst said. “He’s a really good fit for us right now. One of the best contact rates in the league and a real threat from the left side. We had gone back and forth for a little while and we’re excited to have Tommy and add him to our lineup.”

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The A’s have had the chance to get a good look at La Stella as a division rival for the past couple of years now, so they know the damage he can do at the plate. In 25 career games against Oakland, La Stella has batted .305 with one home run, five doubles and six RBIs.

“When I talked to Tommy I let him know we were tired of him raking against us,” Forst said. “It gave us a sense that we know what we’re getting. That was definitely a factor.”

Once regarded as the top prospect in the A's organization after arriving as the key prospect from the Blue Jays in the 2014 Josh Donaldson trade, Barreto has had trouble finding regular playing time in the big leagues. He’s often been blocked by more established second basemen on the A’s roster, and though he made the Opening Day roster, the 24-year-old infielder appeared in just 15 games for the A’s this season, mostly as a pinch-runner, and went hitless in 10 at-bats.

“I hope this turns out to be a good opportunity for Franklin,” Forst said. “You’re not going to find a better kid. We just were never able to give him the full-time opportunity he probably needs in the big leagues. He came over here when he was 17 years old and grew up in our system. I hope he gets a chance to play, because the talent is there and I’m not sure there was ever a fair look at him here.”

The A’s could be getting a half-season rental in La Stella, who is set to become a free agent after the 2020 campaign. But in a year when the A’s are all-in on contending for a World Series title, his addition to the lineup figures to only strengthen their chances.

“I’m just trying to get through this week. I haven’t thought about 2021 yet,” Forst said. “We’ll deal with that after the season. We’re very focused on this team right now. I think we continue to have conversations and will continue for opportunities to add to the club.”