Russell Still a Free Agent, Cubs Instructional Ball, Reds Defense, and Other Cubs Bullets

Getting stuck in my head a lot lately – doing the thing where you run anxiety loops over and over. Once that cycle starts, it can be hard to break back out of it (you can’t think your way out of being stuck thinking yourself in loops!). Recognizing it is a good start. Typing it out sometimes helps me, too. So there you go.

  • He passed from the minds of many Cubs fans upon his non-tender last fall, but Addison Russell is still out there as a free agent. Spring Training starts next week, and there hasn’t even been so much as a rumor of any interest out there in the former top prospect and World Series contributor. That says a lot about how his lack of development on the offensive side, coupled with his suspension for domestic violence, has crushed his market. Just 26 and presumably still with exceptional defensive skills at shortstop or second base, Russell may wind up having to sign a minor league deal just to get another shot on some team’s bench if they’re willing to absorb the PR blowback. For a former tip-top prospect, it’s quite a fall, and highlights that the Cubs waited a year too long to move on (even if you were considering only from a baseball perspective, which of course was never the only consideration).
  • No, by the way, I do not see the Cubs bringing Russell back on a minor league deal. The non-tender was a financial decision, sure, but I think it was also a decision to completely move on.
  • Arizona Phil lists the full group of Cubs minor leaguers in Arizona right now for instructional ball (i.e., working on specific things in advance of Spring Training), and it’s an interesting group this year – largely older prospects and players. Historically, instructs came after the minor league season, and were mostly for the younger prospects. The Cubs last year moved instructs from the fall to just before Spring Training (wanting guys to take the things they were working on straight into the spring), and now it appears they’ve also shifted their philosophy about which guys to focus on for instructs. I would imagine this shift is not taking place in a vacuum, and the younger guys are also getting instruction in a different way, too. Remember, the Cubs have completely overhauled their player development structure the last year and a half, so none of this is a surprise.
  • It makes for a nice follow-up to yesterday’s discussion about why FanGraphs kinda still hates the Reds – Mike Petriello writes about the plan to deploy Mike Moustakas as the everyday second baseman in Cincinnati, and why it might not be a huge problem thanks to the evolving role at that spot (and Moustakas’s frequent shifting experience). He just looks so clunky to me at the position, but maybe it won’t be a huge problem.
  • The Marlins just DFA’d two interesting arms (Jarlin Garcia and Jose Quijada) to make room for Brandon Kintzler and Matt Joyce on their 40-man roster (one of the few things the Marlins do have a lot of is interesting young arms on the 40-man), and you can presume the Cubs will be giving heavy waiver wire looks to them, because it’s what they do. The 40-man is currently full, so keep that in mind if you see the Cubs try to slip someone through waivers in the coming days.
  • This is a HIGH SCHOOL kid parking the ball up in the bleachers? That third one, to right center, is actually way deeper than it looks:
  • Extension news out of Seattle:
  • It looks like a cheap-as-heck extension for Gonzales, who turns 28 this month, given his back-to-back 3.4 and 3.7-WAR seasons. But he started giving up a lot more fly balls last year (that happened to not leave the yard), while pairing that with no strikeouts (and no walks). Guys with his profile make you a little nervous (so many more balls in play means high variance in results), so the deal actually looks pretty appropriate.
  • A great honor for The Captain:
  • Meh, Dillon Maples’ slider moves even more:
  • Pitching Ninja always knows the way to my heart:
  • https://twitter.com/PitchingNinja/status/1224663359401971714

  • 60 years makes a lot of difference, and also somehow not much:
  • Computers and tablets are among your Deals of the Day at Amazon today. #ad
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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