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Should the Cubs non-tender Addison Russell?

The deadline for tendering a 2019 contract is coming up soon.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The deadline for MLB teams to tender contracts to players eligible for arbitration is two weeks from Friday — November 30.

The only Cubs player who might not be tendered a contract is Addison Russell.

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s set aside Russell’s off-field issues and look solely at his on-field performance, which has declined since 2016.

Russell’s OPS has dropped from .738 (2016) to .722 (2017) to .657 (2018). In fact, Russell’s 2018 OPS was fifth-worst in the National League for anyone who had as many PA (465) as he did. His bWAR dropped from 4.2 (2016) to 2.4 (2017) to 2.0 (2018). 2 bWAR is still a reasonable figure for a starting player. Pretty much all of that 2018 value came from Russell’s defense.

But, he missed quite a number of games due to injuries over the last two years. Foot, shoulder and hand injuries combined through 2017 and 2018 forced him to miss 52 games in ‘17 and 32 in ‘18. and his power numbers dropped precipitously.

Further, the Cubs can replace him without adding anyone from outside the organization, at least for 2019. Javier Baez, who started 52 games at shortstop in 2018, could move over and become the fulltime starter, and second base could be manned by a platoon of Ben Zobrist and David Bote. (Bote did hit LHP quite well in 2018: .275/.381/.490, though in only 63 PA.)

And, by non-tendering Russell, the Cubs would save approximately $4 million, which is the estimate of what he’d get through the arbitration process both here and at MLB Trade Rumors.

Sure, it’s entirely possible the Cubs could trade Russell somewhere in the next two weeks. MLBTR says the same thing about non-tender candidates in general. And wherever Russell goes, he’ll sit out the first 30 games of 2019.

But if they can’t trade him by November 30, I think they should just non-tender him and move on.


Should the Cubs non-tender Addison Russell?

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