The Cubs have non-tendered infielder Addison Russell, per Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (via Twitter). Lefty Danny Hultzen was also not tendered a contract, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian adds on Twitter.
This ends a scandalous Cubs tenure for Russell, who came to the team as a possible shortstop of the future in a blockbuster trade with the Athletics in 2014. Russell was an elite prospect at the time, but his production as a Cub never reached that level (even during their World Series-winning campaign in 2016), and a 40-game suspension for domestic violence in 2018-19 marred the tail end of his time in Chicago.
The Cubs stuck with Russell in 2019, when he hit .237/.308/.391 with nine home runs in 241 plate appearances, but with Javier Baez and Nico Hoerner among their top middle infield choices, they’ve decided to go in another direction instead of paying the 25-year-old a projected $5.1MM in his second-last season of arbitration. However, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein offered a positive assessment of Russell upon letting him go, per Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (via Twitter).
“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,” said Epstein.
Like Russell, Hultzen’s a former stud prospect whose time in the majors hasn’t gone according to plan. Injuries have been ruinous to the 30-year-old Hultzen, a former first-round pick of the Mariners who didn’t debut in the bigs until this past season. Hultzen totaled just 3 1/3 innings as a member of the Cubs, with whom he didn’t allow a run and put up five strikeouts against two walks. But that wasn’t enough to convince the Cubs, who have moved on from Hultzen.