The Oakland Athletics have acquired Tommy La Stella from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Franklin Barreto in a swap of second basemen that appears to be a mutual fit for two teams heading in opposite directions.
The A’s needed an upgrade at second base and got one in La Stella, a pending free agent who is batting .273/.371/.475. The Angels, who are 11-22 after a win Friday, get more years of control with Barreto, a key piece of the Josh Donaldson trade six years ago who hasn’t panned out in the major leagues.
Barreto, a 24-year-old who is now out of options, has batted .180/.210/.360 in 219 plate appearances over the past four years. The A’s sport an American League-best 22-10 record but had received only a .591 OPS from their second basemen, a position occupied mostly by Chad Pinder and the light-hitting Tony Kemp.
“[Barreto is] a young kid that has a lot of good years ahead of him and hopefully can bridge that gap between potential and production in the major leagues,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler said.
“I like the fact that [Barreto] can play a lot of different positions — second, third, short, even the outfield. That’s an advantage for our roster, not only now but moving forward as we look to 2021.”
La Stella, 31, was utilized primarily as a pinch hitter with the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs in his first five seasons. But he unlocked some power with the Angels last year, batting .295 with 16 home runs in 80 games before fracturing his right tibia in early July. Soon after, La Stella appeared at his first All-Star Game on crutches.
“Oakland is getting themselves a championship-caliber player and one that’s going to be able to help them as they make their push,” Eppler said. “Tommy was a well-thought-of teammate, somebody that cared and somebody that was consistent, showing up with the same demeanor in good times or not. We’ll miss him for that.”
The Angels have a couple of more intriguing pending free agents in shortstop Andrelton Simmons and catcher Jason Castro. They seek help for their 2021 pitching staff but would probably have to part with better assets with more control to attain it. Infielders David Fletcher and Luis Rengifo, and outfielder Brian Goodwin are among the names who could yield a better return.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.