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1/8/1986 (31 y, 1 m, 18 d)
2007 June Amateur Draft - Round: 14, Pick: 3, Overall: 427, Team: Chicago Cubs
$0.2M / 1 Years (2015)
Russell signed a minor league contract with the Indians on Monday that includes an invitation to spring training, Tommy Stokke of FanRag Sports reports. (2/13/2017)
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(Click Year to Expand /
Russell figures to compete for a rotation spot in 2012, but looks better-suited to a long-man relief role. (Bradley Woodrum)
Despite the lip service given James Russell by Cubs manager Dale Svuem, the LOOGY with a change is not going to be a serious component of the Cubs late-inning staff. Svuem said, at various times in 2012, that Russell was a member of the closer committee, but despite his strong 3.25 ERA and 3.48 FIP, Russell will likely remain the team's LOOGY in 2013. If he can continue to improve, he makes for a decent inexpensive reliever in a deep league. (
After about 275 innings replacement-level innings, mostly out of the bullpen for the Cubs, James Russell was traded to the Braves, alongside Emilio Bonifacio, for Victor Caratini at the trading deadline. He experienced real success in the majors for the first time, posting a 2.22 ERA and 2.31 FIP in 22 innings, largely thanks to a much-improved walk rate and a complete absence of home runs. Of course, he'll eventually give up dingers again, but the walk rate is encouraging. Russell earned a spot start to the end the season and will reportedly get a chance to start in spring training, but isn't expected to be an impact pitcher in Atlanta. (
The Quick Opinion:
James Russell had 22 impressive innings in Atlanta after 275 replacement-level innings in Atlanta, and will reportedly get a chance to start in spring training. Even if that works out to some extent, his upside is virtually non-existent and he's nowhere near the fantasy radar.
Following a moderately successful four-year career with the Cubs that saw him used mainly as a lefty specialist, Russell was traded to the Braves in the summer of 2014, where he continued his solid run of results. Poor results in Spring Training of 2015 led to his release, with the Cubs once again swooping in to pick him up. The bad news continued, unfortunately, with a bottomed-out strand rate (the fifth-lowest strand rate among relievers with at least 30 innings pitched) and a high batting average on balls in play conspiring to inflate his ERA and condemn him to mop-up duties by summer -- and a demotion in September. It wasn't all poor fortune, though: with a slightly altered repertoire in 2015, his rate of hard contact was the highest since his rookie year, telling us there might truly have been something behind his batted ball outcomes. Still only 30, however, Russell has never had a problem retiring left-handed hitters (.300 weighted on base average against), and he'll most likely find a job in some capacity in a major league bullpen during 2016. (Owen Watson)
The Quick Opinion:
After a great 2014 driven in part by luck on fly balls, 2015 was less kind to Russell, who suffered some poor luck en route to a 5.29 ERA. Even with a dip in his strikeout rate, his 3.90 FIP hinted at better times, and, given his age and history, there's probably still a league-average middle reliever here. Even so, Russell is a long shot to provide much (if any) fantasy value.
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Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2017 3:34 AM ET
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