DECEMBER 6: A source tells Chris McCosky of the Detroit News (Twitter link) that the Tigers “have no interest” in Russell.
DECEMBER 5: The Tigers are among the teams interested in free-agent middle infielder Addison Russell, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets. Russell joined the open market when the Cubs non-tendered him Monday.
There is no denying Russell is a major league-caliber middle infielder, but the significant baggage he comes with likely helped influence the Cubs to move on from him. The 25-year-old Russell sat out the early portion of last season after the league issued him a 40-game suspension for a violation of its domestic violence policy in October 2018. Once Russell came back from that alarming ban, opposing pitchers handled him. The former top prospect managed a weak .237/.308/.391 line with nine home runs across 241 plate appearances.
The Cubs, led by president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, have spoken well of Russell since they moved on from him. Nevertheless, he probably won’t do all that well in free agency, which helps make the rebuilding Tigers a fit for Russell. They don’t figure to spend that much in free agency after a 47-win campaign. General manager Al Avila has indicated that utilityman Niko Goodrum’s the favorite to man short in 2020, but even if that’s true, the Tigers have a clear need at second base. Russell has significant experience at both positions.