Former 1st round pick of the Oakland Athletics shortstop Addison Russell is heading overseas to play baseball.
Russell has agreed to a one-year deal with Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization. He will attempt to revive his baseball career after going unsigned this offseason.
The 26-year-old shortstop was once a top prospect, but will now need to prove his worth overseas. He’ll make $530,000 the remainder of this season after no professional organization showed interest in him during free agency.
Can Russell Rebound in Korea?
The former All-Star shortstop became a free agent after the Chicago Cubs decided to non-tender him in December. He served a 40-game suspension under MLB’s domestic violence policy in late 2018. Russell finished out the final 28 games of his suspension during the beginning of the 2019 season.
Heroes GM Chi-Hyun Kim did his due diligence and looked in Russell’s past. At the end of the day, Kim came to the conclusion that what Russell did was wrong, but not bad enough that he should no longer play baseball. They will give Russell a rare second chance to redeem himself from his past mistakes.
Originally, the Heroes attempted to land free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig. Although, Puig decided to decline their offer and continue to pursue a job in the MLB. Puig remains unsigned at the moment, but is well deserving of a roster spot at the Major League level. Russell will replace Taylor Motter, who was released last month. Russell is expected to be used as a utility type of player off the bench for the Heroes.
Last season, Addison Russell hit .237/.308/.391 with nine home runs and 23 RBI through 82 games with the Cubs. He was an All-Star in 2016, but has never been able to live up to expectations. Russell is known for being a reliable defender, but his fielding has regressed over the last few seasons. A move overseas could be good for him to re-invent himself as a player.
KBO teams are only allowed to have three foreign players on their roster. Russell must complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine for all international travelers into South Korea. The Heroes already have All-Star caliber players up the middle of the infield. Addison Russell will have to earn his spot on the roster, but at least he’ll get another chance to play baseball.