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Cubs cut ties with Addison Russell. Theo Epstein says it's simply a baseball decision.

Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

CHICAGO -- Addison Russell, one of the final players added to the Cubs' rebuilding program that resulted in a 2016 World Series title, was not tendered a contract Monday night in the first major roster move of the team's offseason.

Russell, 25, is now a free agent, three seasons after he hit 21 home runs and drove in 95 -- both career highs. The move comes as little surprise, since the decline of his offensive production coincided with his 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's domestic-violence policy near the end of the 2018 season.

Russell could have earned $5 million as an arbitration-eligible player.

In a statement, President Theo Epstein said the decision to not tender a contract to Russell was "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. 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 and growth will continue, and we have offered our continued support of him and his family, including (ex-wife) Melisa."

The Cubs announced they did tender contracts to six arbitration-eligible players -- Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr. and Kyle Ryan.

 

Pitcher Jharel Cotton, a recent acquisition who was arbitration-eligible, agreed to a $640,000 contract. Left-hander Danny Hultzen was not tendered a contract. The Cubs tendered contracts to 19 players not yet eligible for arbitration.

Russell was accused of physical and emotional abuse of his now ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, in social media posts dating to June 2017, first by a person identified as a friend of Reidy's and then by Reidy herself in a blog post in September 2018. MLB placed Russell on paid administrative leave Sept. 21, 2018, before suspending him in October.

Epstein subsequently said the Cubs would support Reidy and require all team employees to go through a domestic-violence prevention program.

After his suspension, Russell rejoined the Cubs on May 8 as a part-time second baseman and backup to Javier Baez at shortstop, but his lack of power and occasional lapses in the field and on the basepaths resulted in him being optioned to Triple-A Iowa on July 24.

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