Hi. We need to have a discussion about what it means to designate a player for assignment (AKA DFA). Why? Well, when the Cubs announced their official 40-man roster moves at the November 20th deadline, I saw a lot of this:
I know not everyone is a stat-head or super familiar with how the rules of contracts work, but this set off all sorts of alarms in my head because I realized just how many of you bing bongs might not understand what a colossally bad idea it would be to DFA Addison Russell. So let me explain.
#AtCubs Twitter replies, in real time
When a team DFA's a player, it means they remove them from the 40-man roster and then must make some choices within seven days. They can either return the player to the roster or make one of the following moves:
1. Place the player on waivers, hope he clears without being claimed for no return by another team, and then outright him to the minors. If this is the result for Russell, he remains on the Cubs. I don't believe this is what any of us wants. And frankly, I'm not sure any team would claim him and his career 87 wRC+.
2. Trade the player. Do we really believe this is happening?
3. Release the player. This is awesome, except the Cubs will still be paying him money they could use toward an actual useful player. Pass.
4. Outright to a minor league affiliate. Again, he remains on the Cubs, which is not what any of us wants.
Instead of chanting DFA!!!!1111!!! at #AtCubs every time this topic comes up, let me remind you that a player like Russell, who is still in his arbitration years, has a much better option for the team: the non-tender. When a player has fewer than six years of major league service time, like Addison Russell, their team must tender them a contract before each season. No really... they get a new contract each year, and a team can simply decide not to offer them one. Isn't that tidy? So rather than doing something that will be messy and could keep them on the hook to Russell, the Cubs can simply... not offer him a contract by the December 2 non-tender deadline. This will save them $5 million+ in salary that they can then use to, say, shop for a Japanese center fielder, or maybe another bullpen arm.
Also, I'd like to implore you to take it easy on #AtCubs. The good folks behind the account ($) are very clever, intelligent people who do a fantastic job (and rumor has it, are also a Lovely Blonde Lady and Cute Beard Guy--the Cubs even hire attractive social media people!). They also probably, I'd bet, aren't sitting around discussing these things with Cheap Ricketts and Thed on the regular, so be kind, and remember #AtCubs likes to keep receipts. If you're not already muted, that is.