Chicago Cubs: The case of Addison Russell
It’s impossible to talk about Russell’s future with the team without talking about his off-the-field issues. It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that those issues have impacted his performance on the field and for that reason alone Russell is the ideal change of scenery candidate.
Yet if we look at Russell’s status objectively, it’s hard to make the case that the Cubs should bring Russell back in 2020. Russell made $3.4 million in 2019 and though he likely wouldn’t be up for much of a raise, it’s looking like he’s never going to return to his 2016 form that saw him finish 19th in NL MVP voting.
The former first-round pick played in only 82 games this year, yet his performance was uninspiring. After hitting four home runs in May right after his return from suspension, he didn’t hit more than two in any other month, while his OPS after May only got above .650 once (.723 in July). He also had some lapses in the field, and his defense took a step backward: After posting at least a 1.9 defensive WAR every year of his career, in 2019 that number was down to just 0.3.
Add to all this the fact that the Cubs are already set at shortstop with Baez and have plenty of internal candidates for the second base job next year that include Ian Happ, Nico Hoerner and Robel Garcia.
Even if the Cubs decide they don’t like any of those options, it’s becoming clear that Russell is not going to be the answer and that they would be better off looking externally to fill that hole. The guess here is that the Cubs will non-tender Russell.