Considering the timeline of things, and also the Cubs’ unwillingness to jettison Addison Russell as soon as he was suspended by MLB, it is not a surprise to see that they plan to tender him a contract:
Cubs likely to tender Addison Russell a contract . He still has 29 days of a suspension to serve at beginning of the season . He is not paid until after May 3.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) November 30, 2018
As we discussed this morning, tendering Russell a (not-fully-guaranteed) contract today does not mean he’ll actually play for the Cubs in 2019. Rather, doing so today would just give the Cubs more time to sort out their infield and maybe trade Russell later in the offseason or (kinda gross to think about) after a team suffers an early-season injury, before Russell returns from suspension. I don’t love that, but that’s probably part of the calculus here.
As for whether the Cubs WOULD keep Russell for next season, what once seemed impossible now seems like something the Cubs are actually entertaining, given Theo Epstein’s comments about wanting to be part of a bigger solution. I do think there is a conceivable path for reconciliation here, but so far, we haven’t seen anything from Russell that suggests he’s ready to do the things – publicly – that he would need to do to be accepted back in the eyes of many Cubs fans.
We’ll see what happens at the tender deadline tonight, and what – if anything – the Cubs say about what comes next.
Russell is projected by MLBTR to get about $4.3 million in arbitration, in this, his second of four arbitration years.