You may recall that Addison Russell was controversially tendered a contract last year by the Cubs after he was suspended under the domestic violence policy. You may further recall that his negotiated agreement with the team for 2019 included a lower-than-projected salary for his second turn through arbitration, but then roster bonuses for time spent on the active roster.
I mention it now because the Cubs recently put Addison Russell on the concussion injured list, which will ultimately preclude him from achieving $100,000 worth of those bonuses, as Gordon Wittenmyer reports:
— Sun-Times Sports (@suntimes_sports) September 18, 2019
We can’t say for certain that the Cubs put Russell on the IL *in order to* save the $100,000, but we can say – as Wittenmyer correctly points out – there is no roster-related reason to use the list at this time. It’s not necessary to add other players to the active roster in September (with the only exception being an earlier recall for an optioned player, but that’s not applicable here). The Cubs told Wittenmyer the move was strictly about respecting the concussion protocol, and it doesn’t seem like there is any ongoing official beef about that.
And it certainly could be that the Cubs were just sticking to what they believe the proper protocol to be. Even if that is the end of the story from their perspective, though, if the Cubs didn’t have to use the list, you can expect Russell, his agent Scott Boras, and perhaps the Players Association will be a little ticked. That doesn’t mean anyone will do anything, but it’s a reminder that the relationship might already be tenuous after the suspension and conditional return to the team.
Russell could return from the IL this weekend against the Cardinals, though he may not draw many starts at shortstop given the way Nico Hoerner has filled in for Javy Baez.
From there, the Cubs will have to decide whether to tender Russell a contract for arb year three in 2020. He will have made just $3.7 million this year, and would not see a significant bump from there if tendered after this season. The Cubs could also try to trade Russell before the November tender deadline, and, given the emergence of other players (plus the background), I speculate that’s going to be one of their first orders of business after the season.
Russell, 25, can be controlled for two more years via arbitration. He’s hit just .227/.303/.389 on the year (78 wRC+), though he’s once again rated quite well as a defender.