Cubs

GIF: Addison Russell hits first Cubs home run before Kris Bryant

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GIF: Addison Russell hits first Cubs home run before Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant hit 55 home runs in 181 minor league games. Addison Russell hit 38 home runs 244 minor league games.

Who do you think was first to hit their first big league blast?

Of course, the unexpected happened Friday, with Russell beating Bryant to the milestone against the Brewers at Wrigley Field.

Not only has Bryant's prodigious power been talked about since the minute the Cubs drafted him in 2013, but he also had five more major league games on Russell heading into Friday's afternoon tilt.

[MORE CUBS: Javier Baez getting back in the swing of things in Triple-A]

But it was Russell who was first to smack his first major league roundtripper, a solo shot in the bottom of the third that landed in the under-construction bleachers in left-center field.

Take a look:

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Of course, some enterprising Cubs fan made the leap into the active construction zone to retrieve the ball, though the Cubs wound up with the ball and will give it to Russell as a keepsake.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon gave Russell the day off Wednesday after the rookie had been struggling some at the plate. With Thursday's off-day, that gave Russell back-to-back days where he could hit the reset button and get his head back on track. The move seemed to work, as Maddon felt the 21-year-old looked more at ease at the plate - "I thought his approach today was outstanding."

 

Bryant is still without a homer at the major league level, though that's expected to change any time now. But for the moment, Russell has bragging rights on his fellow rookie infielder.

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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