What options do the Chicago Cubs have when it comes to Addison Russell?

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs have been without Addison Russell since September of last season. Soon, though, he’ll be eligible to rejoin the big league roster.

This offseason felt like it was highlighted more by off-field distractions than on-field additions. Soon, perhaps the biggest distraction, beleaguered shortstop Addison Russell, will take center stage when he rejoins the Chicago Cubs.

Addison Russell begins his one week stint at Triple-A Iowa this week, meaning his return to the Cubs will likely be when the St. Louis Cardinals visit Wrigley Field at the beginning of May.

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There is a possibility the Cubs don’t even recall Russell back up to the majors once he’s eligible. But the only guys with that answer are Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.

However, if Russell is back in a Cubs uniform once the calendar hits May, the team has a near-endless stream of options in the infield. Russell has been the full-time shortstop since his call-up in 2015. It’s likely that he’ll man that position. If so, the Cubs would likely move Javier Baez back to second base where he’s proven he can thrive defensively.

That may be the best alignment the Cubs could put on the field with Anthony Rizzo manning first base and Kris Bryant or David Bote at third base. Though with the hot start Daniel Descalso has shown, it’s not going to be easy to just sit him every day. Descalso is currently producing career-highs in batting average (.308), on-base percentage (.379) and slugging percentage (.442). His presence has been a major boost to an offense lacking consistency from several key players. 

Longtime veteran Ben Zobrist and Bote are also in the mix for playing time at second base. Zobrist has made a career out of being a utility player and Bote has shown fine defense all around the infield in his young career.

All in all, Russell doesn’t just fit back into the Cubs lineup, which is something most of us couldn’t have possibly imagined as recently as a couple of years ago.

Epstein has stated support for Russell and he has done everything the Cubs have asked from him since his suspension but there is work to be done still. I’m not sure what that means for him and his role with the organization moving forward but I’m sure he will be utilized as a defensive replacement at the end of games at the very least.

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Many Cubs fans want him removed from the organization but at least right now it seems like he will be with the team in the coming weeks. What the future holds remains to be seen and as we’ve seen with Ian Happ and Carl Edwards Jr., the leash will probably be even shorter for Russell given the circumstances. He will need to produce if he has any chance to keep a job with the Cubs or else, we’ll probably see him back in Iowa or designated for assignment.