The Cubs announced Wednesday LHP James Russell returned to the organization that drafted him. Russell inked a minor league contract with the Cubs and the lefty is currently in Arizona. Russell is expected to report to Triple-A Iowa on Sunday.
James Russell tweeted he is happy to be back with the Cubs and can’t wait to help raise the ‘W’ flag in Chicago. And Jed Hoyer said the Cubs are hoping Russell can bounce back and is able to help the team.
The Cubs selected Russell in the 14th round of the 2007 draft. Russell was a starter in the minors for the first full year of his pro career. Russell started making the transition to a reliever in 2009. Russell broke camp with the Cubs in 2010 as a reliever.
Russell was overused during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Russell appeared in 151 games during those two years and it really took a toll on his arm. Russell appeared in 44 games for the Cubs last season before he and Emilio Bonifacio were dealt to the Braves for prospect C Victor Caratini.
After posting a 3.51 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 4.27 FIP for the Cubs with 26 strikeouts, 16 walks and 24 hits allowed in 33 1/3 innings, Russell put up solid numbers with the Braves. In 22 appearances, Russell gave up 21 hits with four walks and 16 strikeouts (2.22 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP and a 2.31 FIP).
James Russell spent the spring with the Braves after talk during the winter that Russell may get a chance to start again. Russell missed time early in Spring Training with a toe injury and struggled once he was able to pitch.
In three appearances with the Braves in the Grapefruit League, Russell allowed 10 runs on 10 hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings (10.57 ERA, 1.70 WHIP). Russell completed two scoreless innings in his first appearance on March 13. Reports suggested Russell’s velocity was down from where it was last season.
The Braves released Russell and paid him around $600,000 of the $2.425 million contract he agreed to for 2015 during the off-season to avoid arbitration.
James Russell might be an option for the Cubs if he is able to get on track in Iowa. Russell is a reverse-splits reliever that Joe Maddon really likes. The 29-year old Russell pitched better against right handers a year ago than lefties and that trend continued this spring with the Braves. For his career, lefties have hit .241/.280/.410 against him while right handers have put together a .268/.333/.448 line.
Jed Hoyer told the beat writers Wednesday that Russell was a pitcher the front office always liked. And the Cubs are hoping to take advantage of the Braves releasing James Russell.
- Full Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Full Report on Russell’s Release from the Braves
- James Russell’s Page on Baseball-Reference