In a surprise move, longtime Cubs infielder Addison Russell has found a landing spot in Korea’s top league. He’s joining the Kiwoom Heroes on a $530K contract, per Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News (via Twitter).
Once a top prospect and promising young big leaguer, Russell is best known now for off-field malfeasance. Russell was suspended under the league’s domestic violence policy after his ex-wife detailed serious allegations of abuse.
The Cubs still gave Russell another shot, keeping him through arbitration in 2019 and bringing him back to the majors after the suspension was served. But Russell was not able to take advantage of the second chance, as he continued to produce middling offensive numbers.
All told, since the start of the 2017 season, Russell carries only a .243/.310/.379 batting line. While he’s a quality defensive performer, that wasn’t enough output to merit another trip through arbitration this past offseason.
Though the Cubs had already absorbed the public relations hit of retaining Russell, other organizations declined to bring him aboard this past winter. He was waiting for an opportunity even while Spring Training neared completion.
The lack of a big league deal may ultimately have helped Russell secure his next chance. Unlike most players of his ability levels, the 26-year-old was not under contract when the Heroes went looking for another foreign player. Russell will have a chance to get his career back on track in the KBO, which is playing at full tile (albeit still sans fans) while MLB tries to get its own season underway.