The Chicago Cubs parted ways with infielder Addison Russell on Monday when they didn’t tender him a contract, making him a free agent.
Russell has been a controversial figure over the past 15 months after violating Major League Baseball’s domestic abuse policies. His conduct became known when now ex-wife Melisa Reidy detailed allegations of physical, mental and emotional abuse on her blog in September 2018.
Russell served a 40-game suspension — including the first 28 games of the 2019 season — for the violation.
Russell started at shortstop for the National League in the 2016 All-Star Game and established career highs of 21 homers and 95 RBIs that season as he helped the Cubs win the World Series.
His production declined after that the season and the 25-year-old batted .237 with nine homers and 23 RBIs in 82 games last season when he saw more action at second base (39 starts) than shortstop (16).
Chicago president Theo Epstein said Monday that the decision was based on baseball and not Russell’s past transgressions. If the Cubs had tendered Russell a contract, he would have been eligible to go to arbitration.
“We decided to non-tender Addison Russell today simply because the role we expected him to play for the 2020 Cubs was inconsistent with how he would have been treated in the salary arbitration process,” Epstein said in a statement. “In the year since we decided to tender Addison a contract last November, he has lived up to his promise to put in the important self-improvement work necessary off the field and has shown growth, as a person, as a partner, as a parent and as a citizen.
“We hope and believe that Addison’s work will continue, and we have offered our continued support of him and his family, including Melisa.”
Russell batted .242 with 60 homers and 253 RBIs in 615 games over five seasons with the Cubs.
Chicago announced that it tendered 2020 contracts to star infielders Javier Baez (29 homers in 2019) and Kris Bryant (31 HRs), outfielders Kyle Schwarber (team-high 38 HRs and 92 RBIs) and Albert Almora Jr. (12 HRs), catcher Willson Contreras (24 HRs) and right-hander Kyle Ryan (3.54 ERA). All six players are eligible for arbitration.
Chicago also agreed to a one-year, $640,000 contract with right-hander Jharel Cotton, who was recently acquired from the Oakland Athletics.
—Field Level Media