Cubs

Cubs promoting Addison Russell in another aggressive move

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Cubs promoting Addison Russell in another aggressive move

PITTSBURGH — Addison Russell will be the latest Cubs prospect to come off the assembly line.

The Cubs are promoting Russell from Triple-A Iowa, two sources confirmed after a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night at PNC Park. It’s an aggressive move that reflects the growing confidence within the clubhouse and inside the organization.

“We’re just playing the game with a lot of verve right now,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I really enjoy watching us play.”

A natural shortstop, Russell had just started working out at second base, preparing to play alongside Starlin Castro and add another dimension to what could become a monster lineup.

[MORE CUBS: Kris Bryant flashes star potential in win vs. Pirates]

At a time when offense is down across the game, Theo Epstein’s front office has repeatedly bet big on hitters. When everyone assumed the Cubs would need to get pitching back in the deal, Russell became the headliner in last summer’s blockbuster Jeff Samardzija trade with the Oakland A’s.

The A’s had selected Russell with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2012 draft out of Pace High School in Florida. He entered this season as Baseball America’s No. 3 prospect.

Russell is just 21 years old and has played only 14 career games above the Double-A level. But the Cubs accelerated the timeline after seeing his offensive game at Iowa — 14-for-44 (.318) with nine RBIs in 11 games — and the lack of production from their second basemen.

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So much for getting into a rhythm and those deliberate player-development plans. It’s only April, but the Cubs are 7-5 and want to ride this wave of momentum.

The Cubs already dropped Baseball America’s No. 1 prospect (Kris Bryant) into the middle of their lineup over the weekend. Jorge Soler, Anthony Rizzo, Bryant and Castro combined for 11 hits in Monday’s victory over the Pirates (6-7).

“Our offense is going to win us a ton of games this year,” Jake Arrieta said after limiting the Pirates to one run across seven innings. “Because we’ve got a special lineup. It’s a lot of young players, but with the addition of Bryant now, it takes a little pressure off (everyone). Overall, we’re moving in an incredibly solid direction. It’s just fun to be a part of this.”

Cubs free agent Nick Castellanos reportedly agrees to deal with Reds

Cubs free agent Nick Castellanos reportedly agrees to deal with Reds

Yesterday, it was reported that the Reds were the favorite to ink Cubs free agent right fielder Nick Castellanos. On Monday, it appears those two sides have reached an agreement on a multi-year deal, per The Athletic's C. Trent Rosencrans and Ken Rosenthal: 

Given the Cubs' desire to steer clear of the luxury tax in 2020, the odds of a reunion with Castellanos were always low. The club's recent signing of outfielder Steven Souza only furthered that belief.

To lose him to a divison rival, though, undoubtedly stings, especially considering the gumption with which the Reds have approached the offseason. Cincinnati has also notably added Mike Moustakas, Shogo Akiyama and Wade Miley this winter.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported the deal is for $64 million over four years and added that the deal includes at least one opt-out.

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Reds are favorite to sign Cubs free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos, report says

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USA TODAY

Reds are favorite to sign Cubs free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos, report says

The odds of a Cubs-Nick Castellanos reunion happening have seemed slim all offseason. Although they've been connected to him at various points this winter, bringing back the fan favorite right fielder would require some serious financial gymnastics for the North Siders.

With the Cubs cognizant of the luxury tax, the division rival Reds have emerged as the favorite to sign Castellanos, according to MLB insider Jon Morosi.

The Reds have emerged as the frontrunner to sign free-agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, one source said Sunday, and there are indications the sides have made progress over the past several days. While Cincinnati is now the favorite to sign Castellanos, the Giants also have negotiated with the 27-year-old in recent weeks.

Because of their desire to stay under the luxury tax in 2020, the Cubs have only made low-cost acquisitions this winter. They were penalized $7.6 million for eclipsing the threshold in 2019; if they do so in 2020, they'll be taxed 30 percent on their overages —  and see their 2021 draft pick drop 10 spots, if they go over the figure by $40 million.

At this point, the only realistic scenario where the Cubs re-sign Castellanos is if they shed salary. However, they've reportedly signed outfielder Steven Souza to a one-year deal, giving them five outfielders (along with Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, Ian Happ, Jason Heyward). That might be the biggest indicator of a reunion not being in the cards.

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