The Cubs have designated left-hander James Russell for assignment and also activated right-hander Rafael Soriano from the disabled list and designated him for assignment as well, the team announced. These two moves make 40-man roster space for the contracts of Trevor Cahill and Quintin Berry, each of which was selected from Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs also recalled Javier Baez and Tsuyoshi Wada.
Russell, 29, returned to the Cubs on a minor league deal this year after being traded to the Braves last summer and subsequently released in Spring Training. Russell was extremely sharp in Triple-A prior to his promotion to rejoin the Cubs, firing 9 2/3 scoreless innings and allowing just four hits and zero walks against 12 strikeouts. He’s struggled in the Majors, however, totaling a dismal 5.29 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 34 innings. A fluky low 57.7 strand rate has played a large role in his bloated ERA, leading stats such as FIP (3.89), xFIP (4.36) and SIERA (4.32) to project better results. Those numbers, of course, are hardly dominant projections in their own right, and the .338/.368/.606 batting line Russell has yielded to right-handed hitters is its own troublesome issue.
The Cubs signed the veteran Soriano to a minor league deal with a $4.1MM base salary back in June, but the former Nationals/Yankees/Rays closer appeared in just six games with Chicago before landing on the DL due to right shoulder inflammation. Soriano didn’t sign as a free agent over the winter, holding out for a significant deal that never came. He eventually fired agent Scott Boras and signed on with Octagon, taking his deal with the Cubs shortly after. It’s a disappointing followup to a mostly successful two-year stint as the Nationals’ closer, and one would imagine that Soriano is almost certainly looking at another minor league deal this winter following a brief and disappointing stint as a Cub.