The Kiwoom Heroes of the KBO League have signed shortstop Addison Russell and re-signed left-hander Eric Jokisch to contracts for the 2023 season, according to reports out of South Korea. (Hat tip to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net). Jokisch will receive $1.5MM, while Russell receives $700K.
This is Russell’s second KBO stint, after previously playing 65 games with the Heroes during the 2020 season. Russell hit .254/.317/.336 over 271 plate appearances that year, and the Heroes didn’t renew Russell’s contract after the season was up. Russell has spent the last two seasons posting big numbers with Acereros de Monclova of the Mexican League.
Once one of baseball’s top prospects, Russell spent five seasons with the Cubs (2015-19) and was an important part of the team’s 2016 World Series championship club. However, in 2018, Russell was issued a 40-game suspension under the MLB-MLBPA Join Domestic Violence Policy, in the wake of the league’s investigation into accusations made by Russell’s ex-wife of physical and verbal abuse during their marriage. The Cubs chose to tender Russell a contract following the 2018 season, but non-tendered the shortstop following the 2019 campaign.
Jokisch’s Major League resume consists of four games and 14 1/3 innings with the Cubs back in 2014, and he also pitched in the minors with the Marlins, Rangers, Diamondbacks, and Athletics over the course of his nine seasons in affiliated baseball. The southpaw then signed with the Heroes prior to the 2019 season, and has become a staple for the Seoul-based club, posting a 2.72 ERA over 701 2/3 innings and 117 starts for the Heroes over the last four seasons.
Jokisch turns 34 in July, and with such a comfortable niche carved out for himself in the KBO League, it remains to be seen if he’ll ever explore a return to North American baseball. There was some indication that MLB teams were interested in the lefty during the 2020-21 offseason, but he ended up returning to the Heroes.