Cubs

Report: MLB will investigate Addison Russell’s domestic issues

Report: MLB will investigate Addison Russell’s domestic issues

Addison Russell's on-field professional struggles might be partially explained by his off-the-field personal issues, with his wife using social media on Wednesday night to accuse the Cubs shortstop of cheating and the Chicago Sun-Times reporting Thursday morning that Major League Baseball plans to investigate him under its domestic-violence protocol.

Russell’s wife, Melisa, has since deleted the posts on her Instagram and Twitter accounts, but it caught MLB’s attention and the screen grabs can still be found across the Internet. The most potentially explosive element would be the abuse allegations leveled with an Instagram comment from a woman believed to be one of Melisa’s good friends.

Russell, 23, is coming off an All-Star season where he helped the Cubs win their first World Series title since 1908. But Russell hasn’t played at that high level or with the same sharpness this year, hitting .209 with a .626 OPS and recently falling into a timeshare at shortstop with Javier Baez.

Russell didn’t play in Wednesday night’s loss to the Miami Marlins and wasn’t at his locker postgame when the Wrigley Field clubhouse opened up for the media. Russell’s high-powered agent, Scott Boras, and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein didn’t immediately respond to text messages.

Commissioner Rob Manfred is granted broader power in these situations under the collective bargaining agreement. Manfred suspended Aroldis Chapman for 30 games before the beginning of last season, even though the Broward County State Attorney’s Office ultimately decided to not file criminal charges after an incident at the closer’s South Florida home.

That didn’t stop the Cubs from making a blockbuster trade with the New York Yankees last summer and adding Chapman and his 100-mph fastball as a bullpen rental. Russell – a player the Cubs built around for the long term – also deserves the chance to tell his side of the story before Thursday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field.

Already this week, MLB has signaled investigators will dig into allegations that Tampa Bay Rays catcher Derek Norris “physically and emotionally abused” his ex-fiancée, Kristen Eck, who made those claims on her Instagram account and personal blog.

Norris released a statement through his agent to the Tampa Bay Times that said: “I have NEVER been physically or emotionally abusive towards her, or anyone else in my life.”

Cubs meet with Japanese free agent Shogo Akiyama, a potential solution to multiple needs

Cubs meet with Japanese free agent Shogo Akiyama, a potential solution to multiple needs

The Cubs have met with Japanese free agent Shogo Akiyama, according to WSCR’s Bruce Levine.

Akiyama would help the Cubs address multiple needs: center field and the leadoff spot. The 31-year-old holds a career .376 on-base percentage in Japan’s highest level of baseball, Nippon Professional Baseball.

Eleven Cubs led off at least once last season, posting a .212 average and .294 OBP (both last in MLB). In 143 games with the Saitama Seibu Lions, Akiyama hit .303 with a .392 OBP and 20 home runs.

Five Cubs played center field in 2019, posting a combined .232/.305/.388 (.693 OPS) slash line. Those figures were second-worst among all Cubs positional groups, behind second base. League-wide, Cubs center fielders ranked 20th in both average and OPS.

Money aside, adding Akiyama would all but rule out Nicholas Castellanos returning to the Cubs next season. The former would slot into center field, moving Jason Heyward back over to right. Heyward became the team’s full-time center fielder after the Cubs acquired Castellanos at the trade deadline.

The Cubs prefer to play Heyward in right, where he’s won five Gold Glove Awards in his career. From left to right, a Kyle Schwarber-Heyward-Castellanos outfield is formidable offensively, but together they make up a below-average defensive trio.

Akiyama would likely not cost much on the open market, but as Levine notes, there are other suitors for him beside the Cubs.

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Cubs remain quiet on the trade market

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Cubs remain quiet on the trade market

The Cubs Talk podcast comes your way from Day 3 of the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

Former Cubs general manager Jim Hendry joins David Kaplan. They reminisce about the day Hendry signed Ted Lilly before undergoing a heart procedure (1:00) and he discusses his new role working in the Yankees front office (3:00).

Plus, Kap asks him how much pride does he have seeing two of his draft picks — Javy Baez and Willson Contreras — become all-stars (10:00) and Hendry discusses the biggest trade that almost happened and how it would have affected the 2008 season (11:40).

Tony Andracki joins Kap with the latest Cubs news... or lack thereof (20:00).

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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