After getting hit in the head by a pitch, Addison Russell is hit in the pocketbook by the Cubs

By putting him on the concussion injured list, the Cubs won’t have to pay Russell a $100,000 contract bonus.

SHARE After getting hit in the head by a pitch, Addison Russell is hit in the pocketbook by the Cubs
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers

Addison Russell is helped after being hit in the head by pitch.

Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Whatever intangible reasons the Cubs might have had for putting Addison Russell on the concussion injured list Sunday, they gained one clear tangible advantage:

They avoided paying him a $100,000 contract bonus by assuring at least seven inactive days during the expanded-roster period that otherwise made the transaction moot.

Whether it ultimately amounts to a parting shot for the former All-Star shortstop depends on whether he’s swept up in the roster changes many expect to be made after the season.

For now, it’s the latest chapter in a long-running saga that started with a domestic-violence investigation two years ago. That culminated in a 40-game suspension that began last September and was followed by the Cubs’ controversial decision to retain Russell during the suspension.

And it might yet lead to a union grievance on his behalf. The short-term injured lists rarely are used in September because no roster advantage is gained when all members of the 40-man roster are eligible, except in some strategic cases.

For example, the Cubs used the 10-day IL in the first week of this month for closer Craig Kimbrel’s sore elbow as a means to allow infielder David Bote to return to the active roster. Bote had been optioned to the minors Aug. 31 and, by rule, wasn’t eligible to return for 10 days unless replacing a player put on the IL.

Russell, who was hit in the head by a pitch Sept. 8 in Milwaukee, was in the concussion protocol as the Cubs went to San Diego for their next series, but the seven-day concussion IL was considered irrelevant because it had no impact on roster flexibility or the requirements and processes under the protocol.

After the IL move was made Sunday (backdated the maximum three days to Thursday), Cubs officials said it was about fully respecting and adhering to the protocol.

But nothing in the concussion rules mandated in the collective-bargaining agreement required the move, and Major League Baseball wasn’t involved in compelling it or otherwise suggesting it.

The only tangible result is that instead of finishing the season with 122 days on the active roster, Russell is assured of missing the 120-day threshold that would have triggered his last available roster bonus.

That means a $3.1 billion franchise with the fourth-highest revenues in baseball will pocket $100,000 it otherwise would have paid.

Russell, who spent the first month of the season serving out his suspension, finishes with a $3.7 million salary.

Neither the Cubs nor Russell’s agent, Scott Boras, dispute the math. But both also declined to comment about the issue, with the Cubs standing by their earlier comments regarding their reasons.

Whether the union gets involved, there were no indications Tuesday that a grievance had been filed yet.

Russell, the National League’s starting All-Star shortstop during the Cubs’ 2016 World Series season, lost his shortstop job to Javy Baez during the suspension. He took over the position when Baez suffered a hairline fracture in his left thumb on a slide Sept. 1.

After getting hit by the pitch, Russell was replaced by top prospect Nico Hoerner, who was called up from Class AA as an emergency replacement last week. Hoerner has looked impressive enough that manager Joe Maddon said twice during the homestand that Hoerner might stay at short even after Russell returns from the IL.

Hoerner at least appears to be playing his way into position to compete for a big-league job in the Cubs’ middle infield next spring, which might have an impact on how the Cubs view Russell and some others heading into next season.

Russell’s first eligible day to return from IL is Thursday, when the Cubs open a four-game series against the Cardinals. He participated in pregame work on the field the last two days.

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