Riding a hot streak heading into the month of May, the Chicago Cubs are riding what they know based on an impending move involving a former top prospect.
To say the least, the last few years have been eventful for Chicago Cubs infielder Addison Russell. We all know the story by this point. Chicago acquired Russell in a trade with the Oakland Athletics in July 2014. Less than a year later, he made his big league debut.
At the time, the Cubs already boasted one of the best farm systems in the game. Adding Russell, a consensus top-five prospect, to that mix of rising stars only electrified fans further for the future. Eventually, these young individuals helped erase 108 years of pain and suffering.
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Along the way, Russell came through with some clutch hits during the National League Championship and World Series. That came on the heels of a career-high 95 RBI during the regular season, giving us all hope of yet another big bat in this lineup for years to come.
But the honeymoon period faded fast. Over the last two years, Russell has been engulfed in a domestic abuse scandal – one that netted him a 40-game suspension from Major League Baseball late last summer.
Now, Russell finds himself back with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. Despite being eligible for reinstatement later this week, he won’t be joining the big club anytime soon.
Considering how well Javier Baez has been playing, the everyday shortstop position should belong to him. Baez has turned himself into a legitimate annual MVP candidate, leaving Russell on the outside in regards to that spot on the depth chart.
As reported by Gordon Wittenmeyer on Twitter, the Cubs will officially option Russell to Triple-A on May 2. This makes sense considering there really isn’t any room on the 25-man roster. There is no point in sending down a bullpen arm with Brandon Morrow still likely months away from making his return to the Major League roster.
Earlier this season, Theo Epstein inked David Bote to a five-year extension, pretty much making him a lock on the roster pending any severe decline in production. That’s yet another name who will not be sent down to Iowa for Russell.
You know someone is performing well when Ben Zobrist approaches Joe Maddon about giving up his own playing time for a guy who is seeing the ball well. Not to mention, Daniel Descalso has proved to be a nice pickup following Tommy La Stella‘s departure this winter.
Descalso led off Tuesday’s series opener with a home run in Seattle, setting the tone for a 6-5 victory and eventual two-game sweep of the Mariners.
Keep in mind that Theo Epstein is also counting on Ian Happ to turn things around himself. The Cubs optioned the switch-hitter to Iowa before camp broke in terms of cutting down on his punchouts. A move involving Happ and Mark Zagunis would make the most sense as it’ll be nice to have the power hitting utilityman back in the lineup.
At the end of the day, there isn’t much wiggle room for Russell. Expect him to only serve as emergency depth if anything were to happen to this current infield corp until or if he’s traded.