Addison Russell Agrees to $3.4 Million Deal with Potential Bonuses to Cover Money Lost to Suspension

Addison Russell became the Cubs’ fourth arbitration-eligible player to avoid the panel Friday when he agreed to a $3.4 million 2019 salary. He’ll lose roughly $540,000 of that to the remainder of his domestic violence suspension, but the new deal comes with easily-attainable incentives that allow him to earn back all of that and then some.

The contract calls for bonuses of $100,000 apiece at 30, 60, 90, and 120 days on the active roster, then a $200,000 bonus if he reaches 150 days. That’s a total of $600,000 if you’re not into the whole math thing. Folks, I’m not really sure what to think of this. It feels like a bribe or a reward for doing nothing other than simply not screwing up.

Even setting aside the idea that Russell will miss at least a month due a habitual pattern of spousal abuse, he didn’t perform well when he was on the field. But if you look purely at the baseball aspect, the $3.4 million — slightly more if he reaches the incentives — is a paltry raise over the $3.2 million he got last year. It also falls about $900,000 below projections.

We’ll see what this means for Russell’s future in Chicago, as there are a couple different ways to take it. One is that his financial cost is firmly established in the event the Cubs would like to continue shopping him to other teams. The other is that the Cubs have laid the incentives out as a reward for completing his MLB-ordered diversion therapy. Maybe both.

There’s also the possibility that the bonuses aren’t reached at all, either because Russell receives further discipline or because the Cubs release him. Then there’s the matter of “active roster,” which could mean not on the DL or maybe just not on the restricted list. Not sure of the specific language there. In any case, 150 days is the time from the end of Russell’s suspension to the end of the regular season.

As of post time, we’ve learned of agreements with Mike Montgomery, Kyle Schwarber, and Kyle Hendricks. That leaves just Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, and Carl Edwards Jr., and the Cubs are trending about $1.4 million under projections to this point.

Update: Russell’s bonuses are indeed based on active days not on the DL ($), so the only way he maxes out is if he is on the team and healthy from the moment his suspension is up. His contract isn’t fully guaranteed, either, so the Cubs aren’t on the hook for the whole thing even if they end up releasing him at some point.

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