After posting some stellar seasons, a big contract could be on the horizon for Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell
Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell has enjoyed a great start to his major league career. The youngster made his major league debut at the age of 21 in 2015. During the 2015 campaign, Russell appeared in 142 games, splitting time between second base and shortstop.
Since the 2015 season, in which Russell slashed .242/.307/.389, he has been relegated to shortstop.
In 2016, Russell took off, both offensively and defensively. The 22-year-old hit 21 home runs to go along with his 95 RBI and .321 OBP. His 4.3 WAR ranked seventh among all shortstops, and his 21 home runs ranked ninth.
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Combine Russell’s advanced offensive skills with his above-average defense (19 runs saved in 2016), and you get the make-up of a special player.
Do Russell’s great numbers equate to big money in the future?
The Colorado Rockies inked Tulowitzki to a 10-year, $157.75 million extension after the 2010 season. That season, Tulowitzki hit 27 home runs and had 95 RBI. He did hit .315 with a .381 OBP, but the thin air of Coors Field make those numbers look better than they really are.
Tulowitzki’s 2010 season defensively resulted in the same amount of runs saved as Russell (19). Tulowitzki committed four fewer errors in 2010 than Russell did in 2016, but Russell played almost 200 more innings than Tulowitzki.
The Texas Rangers signed Andrus to an eight-year, $120 million extension at the beginning of the 2013 season. Since then, Andrus has failed to make an All-Star appearance, while slashing .273/.327/.361 from 2013-2016.
Andrus has averaged five home runs and 60 RBI per season since 2013, but has 118 stolen bases in the same time frame.
In 2013, Andrus saved 11 runs defensively. In the seasons that followed, Andrus posted marks of -13 runs saved, -1 runs saved, and -3 runs saved in 2014, 2015, and 2016 respectively. That decline on defense plus Andrus’ troubles at the plate marks a bad return on investment for the Rangers, who just started paying on Andrus’ new contract at the start of the 2015 season.
The San Francisco Giants signed Crawford to a six-year deal worth $75 million after the 2015 season. That season saw Crawford make his first All-Star Game appearance. He also won his first Gold Glove and Sliver Slugger awards.
To earn his Sliver Slugger award in 2015, Crawford slashed .256/.321/.462 with 21 home runs and 84 RBI.
Crawford had a similar season defensively in 2015 to what Russell did in 2016. Crawford saved 20 runs while committing 13 errors in 1,200.1 innings, while Russell saved one less run and committed 14 errors in 1,262 2/3 innings.
In 2016, Crawford saved 19 runs while only committing 11 errors in 1,309 innings, beating Russell for Gold Glove honors at shortstop.
What does all this mean for Addison Russell?
Brandon Crawford’s 2015 numbers are very close to Russell’s 2016 numbers. However, don’t expect to see Russell sign for $75 million anytime soon. Russell will not enter his first season of arbitration eligibility until 2018. That means Russell will not be a free agent until 2022.
Just because Russell is still under team control does not mean the Cubs will not sign him to a big contract. The Cubs have already shown they are willing to pay their young players what they deserve, after signing Kris Bryant for the largest amount of money for a second year player earlier this year.
When the time does come for Russell, a seven-year, $85 million deal would be in-line for a player of his caliber.
All of this is assuming Russell continues to perform at the same level he did in 2016. He is already off to a fast start in 2017 as he has 12 RBI through the first 16 games.
If Russell can stay healthy, the Cubs will be paying their All-Star shortstop close to $100 million to keep him on the North Side. Do not expect a Troy Tulowitzki-type deal, but Russell will get more than Crawford’s $75 million once the time comes.