I’ve written here that I feel the Cubs should move on from Addison Russell.
Now comes word from Ken Rosenthal in The Athletic that the team did try to do just that:
The Cubs spoke with clubs about him before their much-criticized decision to offer him a contract on Nov. 30. Most teams had no interest in a player serving a domestic-violence suspension.
A couple of unidentified clubs, however, at least contemplated adding Russell, and one even discussed the matter with ownership, sources said. That team backed off after Russell’s ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, and previous girlfriend and mother of his first child, Mallory Engstrom, went public in mid-December with new details of his alleged abuse against them.
The revelations from Reidy and Engstrom are detailed in this December 19 BCB article by Sara Sanchez. Those revelations, obviously, came after the non-tender deadline November 30; in my November article I advocated for non-tendering Russell:
I think it’s time for the Cubs to trade him if they can, non-tender him if they can’t. It’s the best solution for everyone involved; for the team, they can move on even if they give him the assistance Theo mentioned and for Russell, he can then get a fresh start elsewhere.
In Rosenthal’s article, he notes that beyond Russell’s off-the-field issues, he hasn’t performed well on the field the last two years and that is likely another reason teams hesitated in their desire to acquire him:
If the Cubs are going to move Russell, who turns 25 on Jan. 23, it will not be until he demonstrates better performance on the field (his OPS declined from .738 to .722 to .657 the past three seasons) and better conduct off it.
MLB Trade Rumors projects Russell to make $4.3 million via arbitration this year; the table I posted earlier today has him at $4.25 million. He’ll forfeit about 18 percent of that with the 29-game suspension he must serve when this season begins and it’s entirely possible that due to the entire situation surrounding him, he’ll wind up with a contract for somewhat less than the projections. He made $3.2 million last year. If the Cubs cut him before the 16th day of spring training, he would be entitled to about one-sixth of his 2019 pay (30 days’ termination pay), whatever that winds up being.
One thing we do know for certain is this:
Per club policy, Russell will not attend the annual Cubs’ Convention in Chicago from Jan. 18-20. The team does not invite players on the restricted list to the event, a source said. Pitching prospect Oscar De La Cruz, serving an 80-game suspension for violating baseball’s joint drug program, also will not be present. Russell is expected to report to spring training early and address the media before the team’s first full workout.
I’d guess that media address will amount to Russell reading a statement and not taking any questions, but we’ll see. Though no official dates have been announced yet, I’d expect the Cubs’ first full-squad workout to happen sometime around February 15.
And I still believe that the Cubs’ best course of action is to simply release Addison Russell.