It shouldn’t feel as dramatic as it does. After all, we’re talking about a post-hype guy who regressed into a bench role, and who hadn’t shown steps forward to realize any of the offensive promise of his prospecting days. When guys like that get into Arb Year 3 of 4, a non-tender is always a real possibility.
But with Addison Russell, a year after the Cubs were faced with a non-tender decision amid his domestic violence suspension (and two previous years of decline), they decided to retain him. Depth at shortstop and in the infield? A bet on the bat finally taking a step forward? A hope for a trade later on? You could cobble together the rationales if you were inclined to do so, and it made for a not-so-fun offseason of having to dance around all that stuff, acting as though the baseball considerations were all there were.
Today, even if there weren’t other considerations, the baseball considerations should have been plenty: Russell hasn’t shown enough to be offered a contract that could be worth upwards of $5 million next year, especially with an imprecise (read: probably tight) budget. The player wasn’t worth the contract. Simple as that.
As for all the other considerations that go into telling the story of Russell’s time with the Cubs, it’s more complicated than I want to get into on the fly tonight – because, for all my expectations that tonight’s decision should have been an easy one for the Cubs, I certainly couldn’t guarantee it was going to happen after last year.
Although a re-signing is always possible in a literal sense, that isn’t going to happen. Russell and the Cubs will be moving on, and he finishes his time in Chicago with a .242/.312/.392 slash line over 615 games (87 wRC+), 9.4 WAR, 1 World Series, and a 40-game suspension served for domestic violence.