Chicago Cubs: Which Cubs are most likely to be traded?
#4. Addison Russell
Addison Russell had an interesting 2017 season. He had off-the-field controversies, an extended injury, and statistics that left the Cubs wanting more. When the Cubs traded for Russell, he was immediately considered one of the foundational players they would build around. With the recent breakouts of other middle infielders, Russell’s job security isn’t what it once was.
Why the Cubs will trade Russell
Russell is the odd-man-out in the Cubs’ rotating middle infield. His power doesn’t match what Baez or Happ offer. His on-base abilities aren’t that of Ben Zobrist’s. When Russell was injured, Baez moved to shortstop to cover his role. Baez out-performed Russell at his own position.
Russell’s slumps are more indicative of who he is as a player than his hot streaks. Other teams would get higher value out of Russell than the Cubs, who have players that can fill in for Russell and play as well if not better.
The Cubs should take advantage of the opportunity to trade Russell before other Cubs force him into a reduced role. If other teams perceive Russell as a bench player, his value will plummet.
Why the Cubs won’t trade Russell
Russell is a core player for the Cubs. Epstein traded for him with the intention of him being a foundational part of the Cubs’ future. One strange season for Russell won’t change that. It would take more than one year for the front office to lose faith in Russell.
There’s still room for improvement for Russell. He’s showed that he could hit, but he hasn’t found his power yet. That discovery is inevitable, and if it all comes together, Russell could find himself in an MVP conversation. The Cubs don’t want to miss that realization.
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Russell’s defensive prowess is often overshadowed by Baez’s, but Russell is a great shortstop. He’s invaluable to the Cubs on defense and offense. He’s a player the Cubs can’t afford to move.
There’s no way of knowing who the Cubs will move, but most trades of MLB players will be met with controversy. The Cubs’ core was a large part of the 2016 team that brought Chicago their first Cubs’ World Series in 108 years. Seeing any of those players leave will be hard on fans, but such a trade may be inevitable.