Cubs tender contract to suspended SS Russell
The Chicago Cubs tendered a contract on Friday to suspended shortstop Addison Russell to keep him from becoming a free agent, but president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said that doesn't guarantee his future with the club.
Russell, who turns 25 in January, was suspended for 40 games late in the 2018 season after his ex-wife accused him of domestic violence. He will miss the first month of the season while serving the remainder of that suspension.
Friday was the deadline to tender contracts to players under club control, but unsigned, for the 2019 season.
"While this decision leaves the door open for Addison to later make an impact for us on the field, it does not represent the finish line nor rubber-stamp his future as a Cub," Epstein wrote in a lengthy statement. "It does however reflect our support for him as long as he continues to make progress and demonstrates his commitment to these important issues."
Russell also issued a statement Friday offering his "heartfelt apology" to those affected by his behavior, including his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, who described in a blog post in September how he had abused her during their 2 1/2-year marriage.
"Since accepting my suspension, I've had time to reflect on my past behavior and think about the next steps I need to take to grow as a person," Russell said. "... I am just in the early stages of this process. It is work that goes far beyond being a baseball player -- it goes to my core values of being the best family man, partner, and teammate that I can be, and giving back to the community and the less fortunate.
"While there is a lot of work ahead for me to earn back the trust of the Cubs fans, my teammates, and the entire organization, it's work that I am 110 percent committed to doing."
Russell said he has followed the treatment plan set out for him by MLB and the players association and has undergone therapy on his own.
Epstein said the Cubs are committed to helping Russell.
"If we're willing to accept credit when a member of our organization succeeds on the field, what should we do if he engages in conduct off the field worthy of discipline from Major League Baseball? After a very thorough process, we have chosen to take action to try to become a small part of the solution for Addison, his family, Melisa Reidy and the larger issue of domestic violence prevention."
The Cubs acquired Russell in 2014 as part of a deal that sent pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics. Russell has hit .242 with 51 homers and 230 RBIs in 533 career games and was a key part of the Cubs' 2016 World Series championship team.
--Field Level Media
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