Cubs Deal Russell and Bonifacio to Braves
James Russell left the bullpen in the middle of the sixth inning Thursday to use the restroom and thought he was staying with the Cubs after teammate Travis Wood mentioned the 3 p.m. deadline had arrived.
Shortly after, trainer P.J. Manville told him to see President Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, each of whom notified him and super utility player Emilio Bonifacio that they had been traded to the playoff contending Braves for catcher Victor Caratini.
Russell returned to the bullpen 25 minutes later to gather his glove and jacket and say goodbye to bullpen coach Lester Strode and the relievers and shook hands with fans before packing his belongings.
“Who knows when I will see some of these boys again?” Russell said.
The Cubs lost an iron man in Russell, 28, who has made 195 appearances since 2012.
“There are a lot of memories,” said Russell, who joined the Cubs in 2010. “Getting to play with (Derrek) Lee, (Kerry) Wood, (Ryan) Dempster and (Ted) Lilly, having Lou (Piniella) as a manager. Those are some of the things you’ll never forget. You’ll always remember the first place you started.
“Nowadays you very seldom see guys playing their careers with one team. You always can come back. I’d love to come back to Chicago.”
Russell is anxious to see the direction of the Cubs after joining them as a contender and leaving as they rebuild.
“It will be fun to see things slowly stop and pieces get added and watch things take their course here,” Russell said.
The Braves and Cubs completed the deal about 20 minutes before the deadline, and it was approved by Major League Baseball (which also approved the $1 million sent to the Braves).
A Giants source said the asking price for Bonifacio was too steep. Hoyer said about a half dozen teams were interested in Bonifacio.
“We loved what (Bonifacio) did this year, and I love him in the clubhouse,” Hoyer said. “He’s great. A lot of energy. He was a guy, being a free agent, he’s a perfect playoff run/end of the season player. He can run.
“With Russell and (Wesley) Wright, we had two relievers we controlled. They’re left-handed, and to get a guy like Caratini, we felt this was the right move.”
Baez status quo: Hoyer emphasized that the trade of Bonifacio won’t affect Javier Baez, who will remain at Triple-A Iowa. Also, Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs’ top pick this year, will continue to play catcher and the outfield at Class A Daytona with the arrival of Caratini at Class A Kane County.
“We’re not going to change our timetable on any of our prospects because of the trade,” Hoyer said.
Newcomer fixes: Newly acquired left-hander Felix Doubront will be placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a sore calf.
“Sometimes guys need a change of scenery,” Hoyer said of Doubront, whom he, Epstein and scouting director Jason McLeod knew from their days with the Red Sox.
“He has potential,” Hoyer said. “He’s left-handed and has good stuff, and hopefully we can bring out the best in him.”
The Cubs hope they can fix Doubront and Iowa pitcher Dan Straily, who made 27 starts for the Athletics in 2013 but has struggled after coming dealt from the Athletics in the Jeff Samardzija-Jason Hammel deal July 4.
“We know (Straily) can do it in the big leagues,” Hoyer said. “We just have to get him back to that point. We’ve always been excited about that return.”
Meanwhile, reliever Kyuji Fujikawa is close to joining the Cubs as he completes his 30-day minor league rehab assignment at Iowa on Aug. 5.
Waivers next: Players now must go through waivers for trades to be completed, and Hoyer said the Cubs have examined their options.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in August, but we’ll be prepared and potentially active,” Hoyer said.
Last August the Cubs traded outfielder David DeJesus after the Nationals put a waiver claim on him.