The Rundown: Cubs Part Ways with Russell, Other Contracts Tendered, Reds Sign Moose, Sheffield Still Has Big Stick
Cubs fans who were opposed to the ongoing employment of Addison Russell got their wishes granted yesterday when Theo Epstein announced that the organization decided to part ways with the once promising shortstop. With an arbitration raise expected to exceed $5.1 million for the 2020 season, Epstein and his entourage decided that the juice was no longer worth the squeeze and non-tendered Russell.
I’m sure there were trade talks with other teams throughout the process, so if you are hoping that Russell will be out of baseball I wouldn’t hold my breath. Teams will be interested in offering a chance to the polarizing shortstop, hoping to capture the promise that once endeared Russell to Cubs fans. Joe Maddon, who has always stood firmly in the young infielder’s corner despite off-field issues, could present an opportunity with the Angels.
Unless the Cubs sign somebody in free agency or swing a trade, it’s probably safe to assume that the keystone in Chicago will be shared by some combination of David Bote, Nico Hoerner, and Ian Happ. Though Bote doesn’t possess the glove that Russell does, he isn’t a bad option and has had some big moments at the plate.
“David Bote” is the only name on #Cubs fans minds tonight. pic.twitter.com/yzgJ4p6IHU
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 6, 2019
Ridding themselves of Russell’s potential paycheck gives the team a little financial flexibility, but in case you haven’t noticed, free agents are back to winning decisively at the negotiating table. Yasmani Grandal, José Abreu, Mike Moustakas, Kyle Gibson, and Drew Pomeranz have all signed deals that greatly exceeded the offseason projections by MLB Trade Rumors. A couple million dollars isn’t going to mean much in free agency this year, so the Cubs will still have to get creative in order to make changes to the roster.
More surprising to me is the number of individuals who felt that Russell should have been given another chance. In terms of offensive production, the former Cubs infielder is in the 8th percentile over the past three years. Domestic issues aside, Russell, who earned just 1.7 wins against replacement over the last three seasons, was no longer worth the salary hit. He should be grateful the Cubs were kind enough to gift him the $3.4 million he earned last season.
Cubs News & Notes
- Players who were tendered contracts by the organization for 2020 include shortstop Javier Báez, third baseman Kris Bryant, outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr., catcher Willson Contreras and pitcher Kyle Ryan. The Cubs also came to terms with righty Jharel Cotton, whom they acquired from the Athletics last week.
- The Cubs non-tendered pitcher Danny Hultzen, who does not have any minor-league options remaining, which means the Cubs would’ve had to either keep him on the 26-man roster from Day 1 or risk losing him on waivers if they tried to send him back to the minor leagues. Hultzen’s ascension to the bigs was one of the few feel-good moments for the 2019 Cubs.
- In a projected trade designed to help two teams get back to the playoffs, Jay Jaffe of ESPN proposed that the Diamondbacks send pitcher Robbie Ray and outfielder Steven Souza Jr. to the Cubs for Schwarber and Tyler Chatwood (subscription to ESPN+ required). However, Souza was non-tendered by Arizona yesterday.
- Baseball America revealed its top 10 Cubs prospects for 2020, with Brailyn Marquez heading what looks to be an improving farm system.
- The prospect chat portion of BA’s rankings is available in front of the site’s paywall if you’d like to read what Josh Norris has to say about the state of the Cubs’ farm system.
- Both Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman believe that the White Sox will have a better roster than the Cubs over the next five years.
A picture paints a thousand words…
The Addison Russell era is over with the Cubs:https://t.co/vS6CY3D67Q
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) December 2, 2019
If you need a primer on the upcoming Winter Meetings beginning Monday in San Diego, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com has you covered.
Moustakas and the Reds agreed to a contract yesterday, with the free agent infielder inking a four-year, $64 million deal. Moose is the first of seven Scott Boras clients to sign, which probably means that Nicholas Castellanos, who should get more, has been priced out of the Cubs’ range unless he takes a heavy discount to stay on the North Side. Moustakas has 182 homers, a .252 average and 561 RBI in eight major league seasons.
The A’s and Padres completed a trade yesterday, with Oakland sending infielder Jurickson Profar to San Diego for slugging minor league catcher Austin Allen. Profar will play second base with the Padres, who now have two former shortstops manning their infield with current SS Fernando Tatis, Jr.
The Rangers met with free agent Anthony Rendon yesterday and will remain aggressive in their pursuit of the third baseman.
The Marlins made a trade with the Orioles for infieder Jonathan Villar and signed first baseman Jesús Aguilar on waivers after he was non-tendered by the Rays.
The Red Sox tendered a contract to outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., then traded veteran Sandy León to the Indians in exchange for minor league right-hander Adenys Bautista before yesterday’s non-tender deadline.
The Giants non-tendered center fielder Kevin Pillar, who actually received a single vote in this year’s MVP race, despite an anemic .287 OBP.
Oakland non-tendered former closer Blake Treinen, who finished the 2018 season with a 0.78 ERA before falling on some hard times last year.
New Music Tuesday
- Head on the Door by The Cure – No album resonated more with me during my college years than this effort by Robert Smith and his band of merry music makers. The digital version of this LP was the third CD I bought after getting my first Sony CD player back in the early 80’s and it’s aged well. The title song still sounds amazing with its wicked bass lines and heavy-breathed vocals. Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits and Graceland by Paul Simon were numbers one and two in case you were wondering.
- Coming Home by Leon Bridges – Undeniably the best R&B/Soul album to drop since the haughty heyday of Motown Records. Bridges is total fire cover-to-cover on this 2015 release. I can’t believe he still remains well under-the-radar, but then again, music is a vastly different beast this century as compared to last.
- When the World Knows Your Name by Deacon Blue – I rarely by a full length LP on the strength of just one song, but 1989’s Real Gone Kid by the Scottish rockers is the real deal. Lead vocalists Lorraine McIntosh and Ricky Ross never sounded better.
Gary Sheffield can still stick.
Sheff is 51 and still hits bombs. ?
Via @garysheffield on Instagram pic.twitter.com/LaOu1vxw5s
— MLB (@MLB) December 3, 2019
They Said It
- “We decided to non-tender Addison Russell today simply because the role we expected him to play for the 2020 Cubs was inconsistent with how he would have been treated in the salary arbitration process,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said in a statement. “In the year since we decided to tender Addison a contract last November, he has lived up to his promise to put in the important self-improvement work necessary off the field and has shown growth, as a person, as a partner, as a parent and as a citizen. We hope and believe that Addison’s work will continue, and we have offered our continued support of him and his family, including [ex-wife] Melisa [Reidy].” – Theo Epstein
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Angel of Harlem by U2. A December staple for me and a fantastic tribute to Billie Holiday.