Somehow, someway Addison Russell is back in baseball
Former Chicago Cubs infielder Addison Russell is headed to the KBO.
Personally, I don’t care if Addison Russell ever gets a second chance in professional baseball. Once heralded as one of the best prospects in the Cubs organization, the 26-year-old middle infielder spiraled downward in recent years, both on and off the field.
A domestic abuse scandal cost him his job in Major League Baseball, but you can’t overlook his shortcomings on the field, either. After putting up strong numbers during the team’s 2016 World Series run, including 95 RBI, Russell’s performance trended downward annually from there.
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From 2017 to 2019, he drove in a cumulative 105 runs – managing a measly .310 OBP while taking steps in the wrong direction defensively, as well. He’s still an above average defender and at just 26, he’s undoubtedly got plenty left in the tank. This new deal with the Kiwoom Heroes of the KBO could serve as a launching pad for a return to Major League Baseball.
There are some who felt the Cubs should have retained Russell via the arbitration process again in 2020. But instead, Theo Epstein decided to go with a second-base-by-committee approach with a bevy of internal options.
Leading the charge is clutch performer David Bote, who may at long last have a semi-regular role under first-year manager David Ross. He seems likely to pair with veteran infielder Jason Kipnis for the bulk of the reps at second if we have baseball in 2020.
Focusing solely on his on-field performance in recent years, in my mind, it was undoubtedly time for Chicago to go in a different direction. Russell has regularly left more to be desired far more often than he’s lived up to the lofty expectations that once surrounded him.
Don’t forget, Russell was once viewed as one of the core building blocks for Epstein and his new-look Cubs. Chicago sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland for the slick-fielding shortstop, who was universally lauded as one of the best prospects not just in the Athletics organization, but all of baseball.
If Russell goes to the KBO and puts up stronger offensive numbers (which a lot former big leaguers have done in the past), perhaps another organization will take a flier on him. But given his off-the-field issues and lackluster showing, I can’t say I’m sad he won’t be taking the field in a Cubs uniform.