Former Cubs star Addison Russell will not return to the Kiwoom Heroes of the KBO.
Several years ago, it looked like Addison Russell was going to be a star. However, his career took a big tumble, to the point where the Cubs non-tendered him last offseason and he signed with the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO). There was at least some hope that he could resurrect his career there and eventually come back to the states.
However, that didn’t work out either, as the Heroes have announced that they will not be bringing Russell back in 2021. Now, just like last offseason, Russell finds his career at a crossroads.
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The Cubs acquired Russell in the Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel trade with the Oakland Athletics in July of 2014, back when he was considered to be a top prospect. He debuted with the big league club less than a year later, early in 2015, and though he was still somewhat raw, he showed that he had tons of potential both with the bat and with the glove.
The next year, in 2016, he was an All-Star and finished 19th in NL MVP voting, hitting 21 home runs and driving in 95 runs while playing great defense as the Cubs won the World Series. It appeared that the sky was the limit.
But then he started to slip a little in 2017 before a disappointing 2018 that was cut short due to a violation of the league’s domestic abuse policy. Russell served his suspension over the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and when he came back in 2019, he didn’t get on track, leading to the decision to non-tender him. Some still feel that the Cubs were too patient with him.
It didn’t work out in the KBO either, as the Heroes brought Russell in to replace Taylor Motter, who was struggling. It didn’t go much better for Russell, who posted an OPS of just .653 while also committing 12 errors on defense over half a season.
Where does Russell go now? He certainly won’t be getting another chance in MLB this offseason, so he may try to catch on with another KBO team. However, given his history, he may have a hard time even doing that. Indeed, at just 26 years old, it appears that his career is on life support.
A lot of fans, both of the Cubs and of baseball in general, don’t have much sympathy for Russell after the tumultuous way his tenure with the team ended. However, it’s still a sad story in any case, as Russell let his stardom in Chicago slip away.