Just a few hours ago, we discussed manager Joe Maddon’s comments on the impending potential return of infielder Addison Russell, who is suspended until Friday under the domestic violence policy. Maddon described the situation involving Russell’s return and role as “in flux.”
Now, team president Theo Epstein has arrived to reduce the flux:
Russell to be optioned to AAA when he’s activated from restricted list Thursday.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) May 1, 2019
Theo said this is a baseball decision but obviously Addison has to continue his progress off the field RT @ESPNChiCubs: Cubs to option Addison Russell to Triple-A come Friday, per Theo.
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) May 1, 2019
Russell, 25, has only just started seeing time at second base again, presumably in anticipation of a utility-type role should he return to the big league team. It is therefore justifiable that he see more action at Iowa to demonstrate that he’s definitely in a position to help the big league club, given the other solid bench options already available to the club.
Of note, Russell’s contract for 2019 calls for him to earn a salary of $3.4 million, but he loses about 1/6 of that because of the suspension. From there, he can earn up to $600,000 in bonuses for being on the active roster, $200,000 of which requires that he is on the big league roster for 150 days. By the calendar, that more or less requires that he is up with the Cubs within a day or two of when his suspension ends, so it seems like he may now lose out on that particular bonus. (I could be missing something on the baseball calendar or the specific nature of his bonus calculation, but that’s my eyeball of it.)
Either way, it could be quite a bit longer than just a few more days at Iowa:
Theo Epstein just shared that Addison Russell has been told he’ll be optioned on Thursday. No timeline, but he’s expected to be in Iowa for a few more weeks.
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) May 1, 2019
We’ll see what the plan is from there for Russell – that part may well still be in flux – but for now, he’ll remain at Iowa until further notice. Given how well the team is performing at this moment, that is fine by me. It also remains possible that the Cubs will explore the trade market once Russell is officially finished with his suspension on the chance that there are moderately interested teams that did not previously want to make a move until he was available to be active (and could be described, for PR purposes, as having served his suspension).