Year after year it seems as though the name of James Russell is always a hot trend when approaching the MLB trade deadline. For the past two seasons Russell has been connected with numerous teams gauging interest, yet he has not been dealt away either year. Sure enough as we approach the deadline, and the trading season has been kicked off with a bang (Via the Jeff Samardzija trade) Russell is yet again a popular man within baseball circles.
Russell is having a very solid season posting a career low 2.73 ERA which is a full run lower than his career ERA of 3.80. Russell has been one of the most consistent arms in the Chicago Cubs bullpen in recent years. He has arguably been the best reliever that the Cubs have had, as the bullpen has not been a strong suit of the organization but Russell has proven he belongs.
Although acquiring Russell may not be a major move for any organization, it would be a move that could help a contending team in need of bullpen help. Specifically Russell could fill the void of a left-handed specialist, but one that is also capable of retiring right-handed batters as well as righties are hitting a pedestrian .109 against him. Russell has always been capable of making upwards of 70 appearances a season and has shown the ability to stay healthy and prove to be very durable.
For the Cubs, trading away Russell seems like a forgone conclusion. Every season it seems that Russell is on his way out of Chicago yet he somehow winds up staying put. This year however, could be a different story. The Cubs have already shown that they will move fast and be very aggressive. If a team is interested in Russell, the Cubs could be very quick to try and act on that interest and execute a trade while he is having a very solid season.
The return for Russell would not be very much, as a left-handed specialist typically will not make the major impact that Samardzija could make for the Oakland A’s. If the Cubs are able to acquire a B level prospect for Russell, I would say that this is a win. Russell has been wasting his best years with the Cubs in a non-contention situation, thus trading him would be good for both sides. A trade would allow Russell to pitch for a playoff contending team, and the Cubs could potentially add a piece to the organization that will help the future of the team.