Chicago Cubs: Addison Russell… what a waste.
When the Cubs traded then-ace Jeff Samardzija and another quality starter, Jason Hammel, to the Athletics for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, and Dan Straily in July 4, 2014, some Cubs fans were a little annoyed. A year later, no one was really upset. Two years later, the talk was about how badly Theo Epstein had fleeced Billy Beane for one of the best all-around shortstops the game would know for the next decade.
Fast forward another year and some warts began to show. Injuries slowed him. Then, things just started falling apart and unravelling in his personal life. And, of course, this had a profound effect on not just him, but the entire club, as it all played out like a bad nightmare. Child support payments paid in quarters, stalking, abuse. Russell was disciplined by both the Cubs and MLB, but given a second chance with the club; that is, of course, until his play couldn’t even attempt to support his abominable personal behavior.
Russell helped the Cubs win the 2016 World Series with one of the best defensive squads in baseball and teamed with then second baseman Javier Baez to form the best middle infields in all of baseball. That much no one will be able to take away. However, his personal and professional setbacks and poor performance will be a huge “what if” in both his life and the course of the Chicago Cubs franchise.
Losing a 23-year-old franchise shortstop isn’t just something you usually make up for, although the Cubs did make the best of it by sliding the even more talented Baez into his spot. Still, they got nothing out of or for Russell before his prime even began.
What could have been, no one knows, but the scary thing is that Russell is still only 26 years old.