MLB teams must offer contracts to the players on their 40-man roster on or before Monday evening. As that deadline approaches, the Cubs must decide whether to tender a contract or non-tender Russell, who has underperformed on the field for each of the past two years and also served a 40-game suspension in late 2018 and early 2019 for violating the league's domestic violence policy.
Russell earned $3.4 million in 2019. His projected salary is $5.1 million for 2020. The Cubs could potentially offer him a contract Monday and only be on the hook for one-sixth of his salary if they designate him for assignment by early March. So in the event the Cubs do tender Russell a contract, it doesn't necessarily mean he'll still be a part of the 2020 team.
Russell, 25, hit .237 with nine homers, 23 RBIs and a .699 OPS in 82 games in 2019. He also regressed defensively and was publicly called out by then-manager Joe Maddon for his lapses in concentration, which contributed to his demotion to Triple-A in late July.
With star Javier Baez earning the starting shortstop job permanently, Russell primarily has played second base. Still, the Cubs may view Russell as the only viable backup they have to Baez. Rookie Nico Hoerner impressed at shortstop for the Cubs in a September callup after Baez was injured, but he's viewed more as a second baseman.