Addison Russell wasn’t drawing any attention from MLB clubs, at least not on a guaranteed deal, so he turned his eyes to South Korea. Multiple sources had reported interest a week or so ago and he has now officially signed a one-year, $530,000 deal with the Kiwoom Heroes. Oh the irony.
#KBO signing: Addison Russell signs with Kiwoom Heroes. $530,000 deal.
— Jeeho Yoo (@Jeeho_1) June 20, 2020
Russell was non-tendered by the Cubs this offseason in large part due to a pattern of domestic abuse that led to a 40-game suspension that covered parts 2018 and ’19. Beyond the despicable behavior off the field, Russell’s play had also deteriorated since a breakout sophomore campaign in which he posted 3.3 fWAR as the Cubs’ starting shortstop.
Injuries and a series of mental errors, including his admitted inability to comprehend the team’s baserunning signs, contributed to a downward trend in Russell’s performance on and off the field. It even led to a minor-league demotion last season, after which he hit .217 with a 60 wRC+ over his final 73 plate appearances. That’s why, in spite of what had once been viewed as elite talent, the Cubs saw fit to cut him loose with little fanfare.
Regardless of my personal distaste for Russell and my relief that he’s no longer playing for the Cubs, I do hope he is serious about his personal growth and rehabilitation and that he can break the cycle of domestic violence. That’s much more about his children and their mothers, not to mention scores of fans who continued to dismiss or even defend his behavior throughout his time in Chicago.
Domestic violence isn’t a matter of youthful indiscretion or a series of mistakes made by someone who doesn’t know any better. It’s not something you grow out of or just have an epiphany about, so you have to truly want to be better and the road to recovery can be a long one. Perpetual, even.
Maybe a change in his environment will help Russell to take more steps along that journey and to be more sincere about it along the way. I am rooting for that growth. I will not, however, root again for Russell as a player.