With the MLB offseason just beginning, teams are making decisions on their 40-man rosters to help protect players from the Rule 5 draft, including Addison Russell. The Cubs have one particular player to watch.
The history behind the Chicago Cubs Addison Russell is no secret. The domestic abuse allegations by his ex-wife later confirmed in a blog post written by her, which resulted in a 40-game suspension for Russell. Couple that with the not so stellar on-field performance, and the Cubs need to decide whether Russell needs to stay on this roster for 2020.
Javier Baez has pushed Russell off of shortstop, and Russell had his worst statistical season in 2019. His fWAR by season since his call-up in 2015 is 2.6, 3.3, 1.5, 1.4, and 0.5.
Russell had his worst defensive season by far with just 2 DRS at shortstop and -1 DRS while manning second base. His 87 career wRC+ also doesn’t really give any ringing endorsements at the plate. Since hitting 21 HR and driving in 95 in 2016, while being a key hitter during the 2016 playoffs, Russell has combined for just 26 home runs the next three years. The power is completely zapped.
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On the roster currently, the Cubs have Baez, Nico Hoerner, and David Bote to play shortstop, while Ian Happ and Tony Kemp can play second base, as well as Hoerner. Ben Zobrist may also be back if he chooses to keep playing and re-sign.
Hoerner’s 86 wRC+ in one month out performed Russell’s number over an entire season. Hoerner was -2 DRS at shortstop, so there isn’t much of a difference between him and Russell. The Cubs drafted Hoerner in the first round, and he had under 350 plate appearances in the minors before he got called up in a necessity to fill in after Baez got hurt at the end of August.
Given the roster makeup, there is no place for Russell, but the Cubs should have cut him a long time ago. The plan for Russell right now is unknown, but it may change depending on what the Cubs do with Kris Bryant or Willson Contreras. Rumors are flying around that the Cubs may trade either one or both of their stars this winter.
The bottom line is that Russell had not performed up to his billing when the Cubs traded for him, and quite frankly, keeping him around goes against everything Theo Epstein said last offseason about “production over talent.”