It was a move that was widely expected ever since the Cubs wrapped up a disappointing 2019 season with an 84-78 record, missing the playoffs for the first time in five years.
On Monday, it became a reality. Infielder Addison Russell was nontendered, and he’s now a free agent.
The Cubs did tender 2020 contracts to six arbitration-eligible players – Kris Bryant, Javy Báez, Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora and Kyle Ryan.
They also agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Jharel Cotton, who was acquired in a Nov. 23 trade from Oakland for cash considerations.
Left-handed pitcher Danny Hultzen was nontendered.
Russell was suspended for 40 games late in the 2018 season for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic-abuse policies. The infielder was tendered a contract last December and sat out the first 28 games of the 2019 season to complete the suspension.
Splitting the rest of the year between the majors and Triple-A Iowa, Russell batted .237/.308/.391 with nine home runs and 23 RBIs in 82 games with the Cubs.
Russell was projected to make $5.1 million in 2020 if tendered a contract by the Cubs.
“We decided to nontender 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,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said in a statement. “In the year since we decided to tender Addison a contract, 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.”
The Cubs were widely criticized for bringing Russell back last season.
“In the last year, the organization has put in the important work necessary to bolster our domestic-violence prevention training for all employees, all major league players, all minor league players and all staff,” Epstein said.
“We also offered healthy relationship workshops for the players’ partners and provided intensive, expert domestic-violence prevention training for player-facing staff. This heightened training and our increased community involvement on the urgent issue of domestic-violence prevention will continue indefinitely. We wish Addison and his family well.”
Acquired from the Athletics in a July 5, 2014, trade that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland, Russell slashed .242/.312/.392 with 60 homers and 253 RBIs in five seasons with the Cubs.