Addison Russell Non-Tendered by Cubs; Becomes Free Agent

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2019

Chicago Cubs' Addison Russell rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run off Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg during the fifth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

Addison Russell's tenure with the Chicago Cubs is over.

On Monday, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported the National League Central team non-tendered the shortstop. As Patrick Mooney of The Athletic explained, that means the Cubs "cut ties" with him and will not extend a contract offer for the 2020 campaign.

The Cubs announced a number of other roster moves Monday as well, including the decision to tender 2020 contracts to Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora and Kyle Ryan.

However, the Russell news was the biggest, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein explained the move was "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," per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.

There was a time when it seemed as if Russell would be a key member of Chicago's core for a decade or more. It acquired him from the Oakland Athletics via trade in 2014 as part of a deal that sent pitcher Jeff Samardzija to the Bay Area, and he was the starting shortstop by 2015.

He helped the Cubs reach the playoffs in his first year and then finished the 2016 season with 21 home runs and 95 RBI all while playing impressive defense. Russell hit two home runs in the National League Championship Series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers and a key grand slam in Game 6 of the World Series win over the Cleveland Indians.

However, his tenure went downhill from there.

While he was a worse player on the field with a WAR of 1.5 in 2017, 1.4 in 2018 and 0.5 in 2019 compared to 2.6 in 2015 and 3.3 in 2016, per FanGraphs, it was off-field concerns that made the most headlines. 

He was suspended 40 games at the end of the 2018 season and start of the 2019 season for violating the league's domestic violence policy after his former wife, Melisa Reidy, said on her personal blog that Russell physically, emotionally and verbally abused her.

What's more, the Cubs demoted Russell to the minor leagues last season shortly after he admitted he still needed to become more familiar with the signs even though it was July of his fifth season with the team.

It has now reached the point that the next chapter of his career will not be with the Cubs.

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