The Addison Russell Demotion, the Back-Up Shortstop, and Russell's Future with the Cubs

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The Addison Russell Demotion, the Back-Up Shortstop, and Russell’s Future with the Cubs

Chicago Cubs

After a flurry of mistakes and focus issues, paired with performance that wasn’t so strong that you could try to ignore that stuff, Addison Russell was returned to AAA Iowa yesterday.

Some comments on that, and thoughts on the back-up shortstop situation:

Assuming Kris Bryant is indeed OK, and assuming that Russell didn’t immediately return on Friday to replace him on the roster, then the Cubs will operate for a stretch without an obvious true back-up shortstop on the roster.

Of course, they’ve done this before, when Russell was suspended under the domestic violence policy to open the season. Javy Baez carried the load, and David Bote was the short-term, in-game, back-up shortstop, which is what he would be again. If Baez goes down, heaven forbid, in the middle of a game – or definitely needs only a single-game break – Bote would be the guy.

If Baez were more seriously injured, then you’d have to consider bringing Russell back, or go with someone like Dixon Machado or Zack Short. That is to say, for the most part, not having Russell on the active roster doesn’t really change the back-up shortstop situation all that much. Heck, Russell saw only 69.0 innings at shortstop this year.

If there is no injury to Baez over the next month, there’s a good chance Russell does not return to the big league team until September, when rosters expand to the full 40-man. Even then, it’s possible he’ll have been traded before then, in an effort to save a million or so bucks. It’s very hard to see the Cubs tendering Russell a contract after this season in any case, given how things have gone and the expected arbitration raise. Perhaps there’s a team out there that would take a flyer on a new scene for Russell – giving up nothing and taking on, again, only a small portion of his salary – and then having the option of tendering him after the season if they so choose.

It’s possible, that is to say, that Russell never does return to the big league Cubs. He’s firmly on the trade radar for the coming days.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.