As soon as he was put on administrative leave – and later suspended for 40 games under the joint domestic violence program – it sure seemed like Addison Russell’s time with the Cubs was up.
Whether it was the lingering year of an unconfirmed third party accusation that wore us all down when it was confirmed, whether it was having previously dealt with the delicate tap dance of having a player suspended for domestic violence on the team (Aroldis Chapman), whether it was the years of underperformance at the plate and now escalating arbitration salaries, or whether it was – if we’re honest – a combination of all of those things, it simply felt like the “fit” with the Cubs was no longer there.
I’ll cop to it: as a fan, I’m not interested in seeing Addison Russell on the 2019 Cubs.
That said, here’s another indelicate thing I’ll cop to: I am OK with the Cubs first trying to trade Russell before the tender deadline at the end of November. If there is an organization out there that wants to rehabilitate Russell and believes he can do the right things going forward, then let them trade value for him, and let the Cubs recoup that value.
It is for that reason that I do not necessarily freak out when seeing a report like this floated tonight:
It would be risky and controversial. There has been no guarantee or final decision yet. But the Cubs are seriously considering bringing back Addison Russell after his domestic abuse suspension, sources told The Athletic. https://t.co/ltkiqxjq94
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) November 4, 2018
There are three reasons a source would divulge that to Patrick Mooney, who isn’t going to report something that he didn’t hear from a very good source. First, maybe it’s just true – the Cubs are considering a reunion, and are working through that process with Russell internally to help him be in a place to come back when his suspension is over after April. Second, maybe it’s something the Cubs are considering as a possible future truth, but first want to see what the public reaction would be. Third, maybe the Cubs just don’t want possible trade partners believing there is ZERO CHANCE the Cubs do not non-tender Russell at the end of November.
Of the likely explanations here, I tend to think number three is the most likely. (If it’s number two, Cubs, please consider this my solid rebuke of the trial balloon.) It’s always possible that the Cubs are legitimately considering something outrageously risky and ugly, but it’s hard to see. Or maybe I just don’t want to see it.
In any case, I still expect that Russell will no longer be with the Cubs organization by the time comes to tender him a contract or not. Sure, it’s also possible that the Cubs tender him while still working thereafter to trade him, but that just adds another layer of grossness that I’m sure they’d rather avoid.
Read Mooney’s report for the particulars, of course, and you can make an evaluation of the rumor yourself – and then you can also make a decision for yourself about whether you want to see Russell continue on the Cubs. He’s still young, still has considerable offensive upside, and is an elite defender at shortstop. I know there are arguments out there for letting him “serve his time,” seek counseling, make amends, etc., and then earn his way back on the Cubs. I am not going to make those arguments, and I won’t be persuaded by them. But I know they exist. Make them if you feel comfortable doing so.
For me, like I’ve said, I just don’t see this as the right fit anymore. However it comes, I would greatly prefer to see the Cubs separated from Russell long before Spring Training.