Given his lackluster performance on off-the-field issues in recent years, Addison Russell has shown he has no place on this Chicago Cubs team any longer.
The day is finally here. We’ll know by 8pm ET on Monday night whether or not the Chicago Cubs will continue to move forward with infielder Addison Russell in the mix. If you ask me, there’s only one possible course of action: non-tender the former first-rounder.
Russell was once viewed as one of the premier up-and-coming middle infielders in the game. He drove in 95 runs during the team’s 2016 World Series run, becoming the first Cubs shortstop to do so since Hall of Famer Ernie Banks. But since then, it’s been a harrowing fall from grace for Russell, who’s taken wrong turns almost endlessly.
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He’s been plagued with troubling (to say the least) behavioral issues off the field, as he has surrounded by domestic abuse allegations (and a subsequent suspension) that caused a great many fans to call for his release.
But instead, Theo Epstein opted to be part of a solution, working with Russell and the league to get him back on his feet. Regardless of how you feel about that, he’s failed to live up to the hype on the field, as well. Given he’s projected to make just north of $5 million in arbitration this winter, the Cubs simply can’t keep up this charade.
The team’s facing a payroll crunch – and with Chicago looking to address glaring needs at multiple positions, especially within the pitching staff, that money has to be spent elsewhere.
First-year manager David Ross has multiple internal options at second base – and we can’t rule out Epstein looking outside the organization to address that need, either. If he stays internal, David Bote could be a prime candidate to get the lion’s share of reps in 2020.
Meanwhile, Russell looks like a perfect change-of-scenery candidate. I’m not saying he won’t ever live up to the potential we all once saw in him. But it shouldn’t be in Chicago. This year, he struggled to a 79 OPS+ and an 81 wRC+ in 82 games and drew criticism for saying he didn’t know the signs he was getting from coaches – despite playing in the organization for the last half-decade.
His lack of focus, paired with his sub-par performance between the lines, is more than enough reason to justify cutting ties with Russell. This has gone on long enough – and the Chicago Cubs have to make the right call (for multiple reasons) and move on from him in the coming days.