Shortstop Addison Russell received a 40-game suspension last month for a violation of Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, but that won’t necessarily conclude his tenure with the Cubs. While it appeared last month that the Cubs would indeed cut ties with Russell, they haven’t yet made a decision on his future, Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reports (subscription required).
According to Mooney, Chicago’s currently doing its “own due diligence, outreach and additional research” on Russell, who earned a suspension a couple weeks after his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, alleged that he abused her verbally, emotionally and physically during their marriage. Even though Russell called the allegations “completely false” when they were leveled against him in late September, he opted against appealing MLB’s punishment. As a result of that 40-game ban, which began Sept. 21, he’ll sit out the first month of the 2019 season.
In the wake of his suspension, the 24-year-old Russell looked like either a trade or a non-tender candidate for the Cubs this offseason. That may not end up being the case, but if Chicago does non-tender him, it would need to do so by the Nov. 30 deadline. As of now, Russell’s projected to earn $4.3MM via arbitration for 2019. Considering Russell has been a capable starter for most of his career and the Cubs are dealing with a lack of financial flexibility, that price tag looks palatable from the team’s perspective.
Regardless of his salary, retaining Russell would understandably open the Cubs up to harsh criticism – especially after president Theo Epstein offered his support to the victim last month and said that “we all have an obligation to be part of the solution” with respect to domestic violence issues. For the Cubs, being part of the solution in this case could mean keeping Russell and trying to help rehabilitate him, as Mooney writes that he may benefit from the team’s “overall structure” – which includes a mental skills department and the “progressive” Epstein.