The Chicago Cubs have decided to non-tender SS Addison Russell after spending the last five season with the club.
It comes as no surprise but the Chicago Cubs have officially moved on from Addison Russell, who spent a portion of this season suspended after violating the MLB’s Domestic Violence policy. Despite his poor decision-making off the field, the Cubs decided to tender Russell a contract last November, but after another down 2019 season, Theo Epstein and the front office have seen enough.
Epstein gave a statement shortly after the news broke Russell wasn’t being offered a contract.
Russell made his MLB debut with the Cubs in 2015, immediately making an impact on defense and eventually being moved from second basemen to the Cubs full-time shortstop. He was considered the team’s primary shortstop until Russell was placed on the inactive list late in the 2018 season, replaced by Javier Baez, who moved over from second.
After a strong 2016 season with 21 home runs, 95 RBI, and finishing 19th in MVP voting, Russell hasn’t been able to sniff that potential he showed during the Cubs’ World Series run. Over the last three seasons, Russell has been worth just 3.4 fWAR, and in 2016 alone he was worth 3.3 fWAR, so clearly the now 25-year-old Russell has regressed since his impressive first two seasons.
As for the Cubs, they’ll head into 2020 with just two true shortstops on their 40-man roster in Javier Baez and minor leaguer Zack Short. The Cubs will need to add some depth to their bench and possibly an insurance plan should Baez have to miss significant time like he did last season.
Russell’s presence with the Cubs had to be draining, especially for Theo Epstein, who had to constantly answer questions about the troubled shortstop all season long. Removing a controversial player like Russell, who hadn’t performed and was slated to receive something close to $5 million in arbitration this year, is a win for the Cubs.
As for Russell, he’s still only 25 years old and was a former top prospect for both the Athletics and Cubs systems, and with his still solid defensive prowess, a team could possibly take a flier on the shortstop.
Regardless, Russell’s legacy with the Cubs will always be as a domestic abuser, and many fans will be relieved he no longer wears Cubbie blue. Hopefully, a fresh start can help the talented shortstop figure things out at the plate and off the field.