Cubs

Former Cub Tommy La Stella is having a special season

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USA TODAY

Former Cub Tommy La Stella is having a special season

If Tommy La Stella was still playing for the Cubs, he would be tied with Javy Baez for the team lead in homers (11) and would be second in OPS (.998) and third in batting average (.301).

But La Stella is not on the Cubs anymore, as they traded him to Los Angeles over the winter. There, the former pinch hitter extraordinaire is now serving as the leadoff man in front of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in the Angels lineup.

La Stella had 4 hits Wednesday, including his 11th homer of the season. Trout only has 9 dingers to date.

Even more incredible: La Stella has more homers (11) than strikeouts (8) this season. He's the only player in baseball who can make that claim.

That puts the 30-year-old La Stella on track for 41 homers and 94 RBI this season to go along with a .301/.388/.611 slash line. Strangely, he's also only on pace for 8 doubles, as he has just a pair of two-baggers to date.

To say that power is surprising would be an understatement. La Stella already has more homers in L.A. in 2019 than he hit in his entire career prior to this season — 10 HR in 396 games (828 at-bats).

He only hit 9 dingers in four seasons with the Cubs, though he also made just 95 starts in that span while spending most of his time serving as Joe Maddon's main offensive weapon off the bench.

The Cubs have already seen La Stella this season — back in mid-April when the Angels came to town. Fans and former teammates welcomed him back with a video tribute and much of Cubs nation has been following his success all year, including his big game Wednesday:

La Stella became something of a fan favorite with the Cubs, who traded him away for minor-league pitcher Conor Lillis-White in November amid a roster and budget crunch this winter. 

Maddon has enjoyed seeing La Stella pad the stat sheet and even made a joke Wednesday in Cincinnati about why we never saw this kind of power output in Chicago:

La Stella still has one more game at Wrigley this season, as the Angels are set to return to Chicago on June 3 to make up the game that was snowed out back on April 14.

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How Cubs' high-priced roster would be impacted by MLB’s financial proposal

How Cubs' high-priced roster would be impacted by MLB’s financial proposal

Part of MLB’s Tuesday financial proposal that riled up the players union involves a salary sliding scale that would theoretically spotlight the growing gaps between haves and have nots among players.

This part of the proposal, reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, would mean players with the league’s highest salaries take the biggest pay cuts, and it could have a disproportionate effect on a Cubs team with one of biggest payrolls in game.

The Cubs entered 2020 with a projected luxury tax payroll of $216.65 million, fourth in MLB behind the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers. Prior to baseball’s shutdown, three Cubs were set to make at least $20 million this season in Jason Heyward, Yu Darvish and Jon Lester — who holds three of the four most lucrative contracts in franchise history. 

MORE: MLB Players Association is 'disappointed' with league's financial proposal

Seven other Cubs were set to make at least $10 million — Kris Bryant (the club’s union rep), Anthony Rizzo, Craig Kimbrel, Tyler Chatwood, Kyle Hendricks, José Quintana and Javy Báez. 

In March, the players agreed to take prorated salaries for this season based on the number of games played. According to Heyman, Tuesday’s proposal would entail minimum salary players not making 100 percent of their prorated salaries, but close to it. 

Heyman added the league’s top paid players would take about a 50 percent cut off their prorated salaries and therefore make 20-30 percent of their full salary over the proposed 82-game schedule.

ESPN's Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers reported the breakdown of potential salary cuts. The figures still amount to players making several million dollars, though they also reflect how a 1/4 of the Cubs 40-man roster (those making at least $10 million) could take a big hit.

Though the players association characterized Tuesday’s proposal as “extremely disappointing,” it’s the first of what will be a long week of negotiations. 

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MLB Players Association is 'disappointed' with league's financial proposal

MLB Players Association is 'disappointed' with league's financial proposal

Major League Baseball has a new approach to reducing the financial toll of playing without fans. And it's highly unpopular within the players association.

The economic proposal the owners presented the MLBPA on Tuesday included additional pay cuts, on top of the players’ already prorated salaries, according to multiple reports. Those cuts would affect all players but range depending on the player's pay, with the highest-paid players taking on the largest burden.

The players association characterized the proposal as “extremely disappointing,” and described the cuts as “massive.”

ESPN reported that the highest-paid players could receive less than 40 percent of their full-season salaries. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that it could be as low as 20-30 percent for the likes of Mike Trout, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

“We made a proposal to the union that is completely consistent with the economic realities facing our sport," MLB said in a statement. "We look forward to a responsive proposal from the MLBPA.”
Tuesday’s proposal abandoned the idea of a 50-50 revenue split, which the owners floated two weeks ago. Although the revenue split was not formally presented to the players, when reports of the owner’s plan became public, it received immediate pushback.

First of all, the union opposed a system associated with salary-capped leagues. The players association has been consistent for decades in its stance against a salary cap.

Secondly, the owners and players were at odds over the interpretation of their March agreement. In late March, players agreed to prorated salaries for the upcoming shortened season. The owners claimed that the language of the agreement allowed them to revisit the issue of player pay if the season had to go on without fans. The union disagreed.

MLB’s first financial proposal to the players association avoids a clash over revenue splitting but does nothing to address the latter concern.

Pay cuts are just one aspect of the upcoming financial negotiations.  Tension in financial negotiations has revealed just how far the players and owners are from agreement on health-and-safety protocols as well.

Gordon Wittenmyer contributed to the reporting of this story.