Cubs Will Option Addison Russell to AAA Iowa Friday

Addison Russell has been in Iowa for the last few days as he plays out the final week of his 40-game domestic violence suspension, and he’ll remain there past his activation to the 40-man roster on Friday. Theo Epstein told media members Tuesday that the Cubs will option Russell to Triple-A once his suspension officially ends.

This is being framed as a baseball decision first and foremost,with the Cubs preferring not to upset a middle infield that already boasts Javier Baez, David Bote, and Daniel Descalso. All three are playing well right now and are better offensive options than Russell, who has a .923 OPS in 20 Iowa at-bats but boasts just a .704 OPS in MLB.

Though the Cubs have maintained this whole time that he has been “compliant,” Epstein added that Russell needs to continue to progress off the field. Even if Russell has been working diligently on his own behavioral issues and interpersonal skills, there’s the matter of the heavy baggage he’ll bring with him to Chicago alongside his baseball equipment.

Cubs players have said they don’t believe Russell’s return will be a distraction, but of course they’re going to say that. To admit some sort of anxiety or trepidation just isn’t in most professional athletes’ makeup, which is why it was surprising when Jon Lester said early in the season that the whole “urgency” edict was weighing on players.

If you think they were having a hard time dealing with questions and expectations about their performance, how do you think they’ll handle it when they’re being peppered with questions about their new-old teammate? To what extent that played in the decision we’ll probably never know, but it’s very reasonable to believe Epstein had it in mind.

The whole organization has gone through domestic violence training, some of which presumably dealt with how to speak publicly about sensitive topics. Or at least it better have, since Joe Maddon has put his foot in his mouth pretty badly and several other players have addressed the Russell debacle poorly. If nothing else, a little more time to brush up how their PR skills can’t hurt.

Speaking of which, Epstein said pointedly that any attempt by someone in the Cubs organization to threaten members of the media with reprisals based on their coverage of Russell would be a “fireable offense.” Not that anyone’s actually going to be fired, though I know for a fact things have been said to some folks in the media (not beat writers).

That topic gathered a lot of steam on social media Sunday, though the initial NBC Sports report on the matter was poorly written and not journalistically sound (as I have much room to talk there). Some things may also have been exaggerated a bit, like the Cubs requiring that pieces on Russell go through them. If anything, I’m sure the Cubs would rather Russell just shut up lest he say something that makes him look worse.

But enough editorializing, the fact of the matter is that Russell will remain in Iowa until one of a few different things happens. Either he’ll be traded, an injury will necessitate a replacement, or someone starts playing so poorly that Russell’s bat looks like an improvement. Until then, Facebook can be happy that we won’t be writing as much about him for a while.

Back to top button