The move ends Russell's tenure with the Cubs.
The Cubs stuck with Russell in 2019, when he hit.237/.308/.391 with nine home runs in 241 plate appearances, but with Javier Baez and Nico Hoerner among their top middle infield choices, they've made a decision to go in another direction instead of paying the 25-year-old a projected $5.1MM in his second-last season of arbitration. He hit.237/.308/.391 in 241 plate appearances last season.
On the field, Russell failed to live up to expectations. Injuries have been ruinous to the 30-year-old Hultzen, a former first-round pick of the Mariners who didn't debut in the bigs until this past season. He's regarded as a strong defender at short.
Epstein said at the time that Russell's return was "not a finish line" but said "there has been progress". Once a top prospect, Cotton lost a lot of luster after missing all of 2018 to Tommy John surgery and most of 2019 to a torn hamstring.
Epstein offered similar comments when discussing Russell's non-tender Monday. Less than 12 hours later, Major League Baseball announced Russell had been put on leave under its domestic violence policy.
Russell earned $4 million in 2019 and was likely to gain a raise in arbitration, probably to around $5 million.