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Report: Cubs may bring Addison Russell back

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The Cubs are weighing whether or not to bring embattled 24-year-old shortstop Addison Russell back in 2019, Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reports. Russell is entering his second of four years of arbitration eligibility.

Last year, a friend of Russell’s now ex-wife Melisa Reidy-Russell made allegations on an Instagram post that Addison was an abuser. Major League Baseball opened an investigation but it didn’t go anywhere as Reidy-Russell chose not to cooperate. In September, Reidy-Russell came forward with a blog post detailing years of abuse from Addison. MLB re-opened its investigation and the Cubs placed Russell on administrative leave. Ultimately, Russell agreed to serve a 40-game suspension without pay. The suspension carries over into 2019 as he will miss the first 29 games of the regular season.

Despite some progressive-sounding quotes from president of baseball operations Theo Epstein during his end-of-season press conference, the Cubs haven’t positioned themselves well on social issues like homophobia (acquiring Daniel Murphy) and domestic violence (Russell; acquiring Aroldis Chapman in 2016). Manager Joe Maddon, in fact, said he didn’t bother to read Reidy-Russell’s blog post and only eventually did so following backlash to that admission.

The Cubs are reportedly cash-strapped, suggesting that they may not get involved in the bidding for free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. The Cubs, valued by Forbes at close to $3 billion earlier this year, also recently traded pitcher Drew Smyly to the Rangers to clear some salary in order to pick up Cole Hamels‘ $20 million option for 2019. It would seem, then, that it would be a no-brainer to move on from Russell, who will almost certainly get a raise on his $3.2 million salary — MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn $4.3 million in 2019. Even Russell’s on-field production has been lackluster, as he posted a meager .657 OPS across 130 games this past season.

The Cubs could be trying to salvage what little trade value Russell has left. He’s young, under team control for three more years, and is a good defender at shortstop. Other teams will cynically use Russell’s off-the-field problems in order to pick him up on the cheap, not unlike how the Astros plucked Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays. If the Cubs simply admit they will be moving on from Russell, then they will have no leverage in trade negotiations. Of course, none of this matters if the Cubs simply severed ties with Russell completely. They have until November 30 to decide whether or not to tender him a contract.

Rays place Austin Meadows on 10-day injured list with thumb sprain

Austin Meadows
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Rays outfielder Austin Meadows has been placed on the 10-day injured list with a right thumb sprain, per a team announcement Sunday. No concrete timetable has been given for his return to the lineup just yet, but he’s scheduled to meet with a hand specialist on Sunday as the Rays try to determine the extent of his injury.

Meadows, 23, suffered the sprain in the seventh inning of Saturday’s 6-5 loss to the Red Sox. He lined a two-run triple into the right-center field gap — one of a franchise-record four triples that the Rays recorded in the game — but slid awkwardly into third base and jammed his right thumb in the process. He didn’t appear to be in obvious pain following the hit, however, nor was he removed from the game at the time.

Prior to the setback, Meadows carried a hefty .351/.422/.676 batting line with six homers, 19 RBI, and a 1.097 OPS through his first 83 plate appearances of 2019. He was replaced by Guillermo Heredia in right field for Sunday’s series finale and will likely lose a few starts to Avisaíl García as well.

In a series of corresponding moves, right-handed reliever Jake Faria was optioned to Triple-A Durham, infielder/outfielder Andrew Velazquez and righty reliever Emilio Pagán were recalled from Triple-A, and reliever Hunter Wood was placed on the paternity list. Second baseman Joey Wendle was also reinstated from the 10-day injured list after rehabbing a left hamstring strain and is scheduled take over the keystone during the Rays’ matinee against the Red Sox on Sunday.