The Rundown: Cubs to Decide on Russell Today, Nationals Eyeing a Harper Reunion, Mets-Mariners Blockbuster Close to Completion

No, you’re not hungover. That elephant you see in the room this morning is Addison Russell, and the Cubs have a decision to make today. Yesterday’s trade of Tommy La Stella to the Angels potentially paves the way for the Cubs to tender a contract to their suspended shortstop by tonight’s deadline. La Stella was moved yesterday for a player to be named later (or cash) after the Cubs obtained Ronald Torreyes from the Yankees on Wednesday.

With yesterday’s trade, the Cubs have a roster opening. They are still owed a player from the Rangers for the Drew Smyly trade and they owe the Yankees a player (or cash) for Torreyes. I hope somebody besides me is keeping track of all this.

Many people would like to see the Cubs part ways with Russell. That he hasn’t made the decision could suggest that Theo Epstein is willing to deal with the anticipated fan backlash by choosing the man over the domestic abuse allegations. I believe Epstein is being fully honest when he says he feels he should be personally involved in rehabilitating his young player.

One thing that is seldom mentioned is that, in addition to the domestic abuse issues, Russell may have a problem with alcohol, too. That’s a pretty common combination.

“Abusive behavior happened more often in arguments (more so when he was under the influence) and the verbal/emotional abuse grew to new levels,” Russell’s ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, wrote in her blog post.

Studies of domestic violence frequently document high rates of alcohol and/or drug use. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Bureau of Justice statistics shows that two-thirds of victims of spousal violence report that the perpetrator had been drinking. It gets worse, though. Russell has allegedly hit his wife in front of their child.

“About a month after leaving, I returned for a visit so my son could see his father, also in hopes that maybe, just maybe I’d see a change in my husband,” Reidy explained. “But, as I expected our visit was a nightmare, I swore to myself it would be the last time he’d lay his hands on me and it would be that last time I’d let my son be a witness to it.”

The Cubs tendering Russell a contract doesn’t guarantee he plays for them in 2019, but it makes the possibility much more likely. If they don’t, Russell will become a free agent eligible to sign anywhere. They have until 7 pm CT tonight to make that decision. Projected to earn $4.3 million in his first year of arbitration, the Cubs might actually see him as a bargain financially.

They could go the other way, too, in attempt  to clear some salary commitments. The Smyly trade came down to the Cubs saving $5 million and, though not as significant, basically swapping out La Stella for Torreyes could save about $300,000. The money saved by breaking ties with Russell could be used toward bullpen help. The Cubs could make Javy Baez their permanent shortstop with Torreyes, Ben ZobristDavid Bote, and Ian Happ all capable second basemen.

Still, the front office may feel that they can buy some time with Russell and let him try to become a better human being before truly deciding if he’s worth staying in their employ. Either way, Epstein will have some explaining to do at some point today.

Free Agent Profile: Adam Ottavino

Adam Ottavino could be a nice get for the Cubs or any other team looking to bolster their bullpen. Then again, he could be a guy who capitalizes on one great season and burns a roster space for two years and about $20 million when regression comes calling.

Ottavino has a four-pitch mix that includes a slider, sinker, cutter, and four-seam fastball. He adds an occasional changeup as well. The right-hander spent 2018 dominating hitters, striking out 112 in 77 2/3 innings with just 41 hits allowed. Right-handed batters hit just .142 against him.

The league started catching up to him after the All-Star break, however. He wasn’t as sharp in the season’s last two months, pitching to an ERA above 4.00 in that span. For the season, Ottavino posted a 2.43 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 13.0 K/9 with 34 holds in 75 appearances. That stellar performance is at least a little unexpected given his past. The 33-year old is just a year removed from tossing to a 5.06 ERA and 1.63 WHIP and he entered 2018 with a 3.97 ERA and 1.37 WHIP for his career. One has to question if the breakout was real or an anomaly.

Handicapping Ottavino: 

  1. Indians
  2. Dodgers
  3. Rockies
  4. Cubs

Yesterday: David Roberston
Monday: Kelvin Herrera

Cubs News & Notes

Friday Stove

The current industry speculation is that Harper will sign with the Phillies, however, Harper and the Nationals seem mutually interested in a reunion, however.

The Yankees continue to be mentioned as a destination for both Harper and Manny Machado, as well as Patrick Corbin.

Left-handed pitcher and former Angels ace Garret Richards has agreed to pitch for the Padres in 2019. Richards had reconstructive elbow surgery in July.

Barring any snags, the blockbuster trade between the Mariners and Mets should be completed sometime this weekend. New York would receive Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz from Seattle for Jay Bruce and prospects according to most insiders, though the particulars could change as talks are still ongoing.

The Brewers and Astros have shown interest in J.T. Realmuto. The Dodgers, Braves, Nationals and Phillies have also been connected to Realmuto, but the Braves and Nats have signed catchers and the Marlins reportedly would prefer not to trade him within the division.

The Reds are looking for an ace to lead their staff and may be pursuing Noah Syndergaard.

Extra Innings

UFC flyweight Rachael Ostovich told KHON in Hawaii that she wants to use her popularity in MMA to be a voice for domestic violence. Ostovich was allegedly attacked by her husband Arnold Berdon, also an MMA fighter, earlier this month. Berdon is currently facing a charge of second-degree assault, a felony in their native Hawaii.

Friday Walk Up Song

Hollywood Nights by Bob Seger. So long, Tommy La Stella. Enjoy Los Angeles.

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