After being drafted 11th overall in the 2012 MLB Draft, Addison Russell was traded to the Chicago Cubs in a multi-player deal back in July of 2014. Former GM Theo Epstein was in sell mode as they shipped away Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel for the top prospect shortstop, along with a few extra minor leaguers. Russell quickly soared through the farm system and made his debut in 2015, and then eventually helped the Cubs break the curse of the Billy Goat, clinching a World Series win over Cleveland.
After an above average rookie season, Addison Russell had a breakout campaign the following year. He hit a career high 21 homeruns to go along with 95 RBIs, all while batting at a .238 clip. Those numbers allowed Addison to be named a starter on the 2016 NL All Star team, right next to the eventual NL MVP Kris Bryant.
With all that being said about his bat, his glove was doing great work as well. He also had one of the most iconic home runs in Cubs history, hitting a grand slam off Dan Otero in Game 6 of the World Series.
One year ago today…ADDISON RUSSELL GRAND SLAM! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/P3d7FADgmJ
— Cubs Insider (@realcubsinsider) November 1, 2017
The Cub faithful was under the impression that they had a future stud at short. At just 22 years of age the sky seemed to be the limit.
However it was a short lived career the rest of the way, as Addison Russell’s numbers seemed to take a decline from what was expected. His batting splits took a tumble, the power seemed to be gone, and he was dealing with some off the field issues as well.
On October 3rd of 2018, right after the Cubs lost the NL Wild Card game to Colorado, Major League Baseball suspended Addison Russell for violating the leagues Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. Allegations against the shortstop came out in early 2017 when his ex wife took to Instagram, making a post that implied he physically and mentally abused her. The MLB had begun investigation earlier that season, then decided to take action in the fall.
While Russell was eligible to join the big league club on May 3rd, the Cubs decided it was best to send him down to Triple-A Iowa. Many thought the decision to bring him back was controversial, but Chicago gave him a second chance. It didn’t take long for him to be in the majors again, as he was called up only a week later.
However after his return to the bigs, his performance took a tumble. Not only did he bat a poor .247 with 37 strikeouts in 146 at-bats, he also struggled mightily on the base paths. He admitted to reporters that he was still not familiar with the teams signals. This prompted the team to send Russell back down to the minors, and it seemed as if this was possibly his final chance.
He was not brought back to the club following the 2019 season, as the Cubs decided to non-tender his contract. No other MLB team was interested that winter, and he was forced to sign a one-year deal with the Kiwoom Heros of the Korean Baseball Organization. In a league that has much less talent, Russell still struggled to find any sort of groove, and was not offered a second contract. His career was plummeting.
Is there a chance for an Addison Russell comeback?
With the few ups and many downs in Russell’s short career, it can be very hard to picture him in an MLB uniform any time soon. As it stands right now Addison is currently in the Mexican Baseball League, playing for the Acereros de Monclova, where he has been for the last two years. He joins former Gold Glover Josh Reddick, slugger Cris Carter, and the legend of Cy Young award winner Bartolo Colon.
In a recent interview with Garrett Kroeger of the Laredo Morning Times, Addison Russell discussed his future in baseball and what it would mean to him to get back to the top.
“Of course, I have my set goals for myself,” Russell said. “Baseball is going to give me a home where I need to play. I just try to come out here and be the best teammate I can be. Compete every single day – just see where I go from there. But I definitely don’t want to be here the rest of my life. I have my own goals. I would love to get back to the major leagues – that’s the ultimate goal.”
Russell does seem to be making the most of his time in Mexico. He is currently batting .344 with 18 home runs and 60 runs batted in, making him an All-Star in the league.
It may not be easy for Cub fans to come to terms with how the Addison Russell experiment ended. He went from getting MVP votes in his second season, to out of the league in his fifth. However without Russell, it’s hard to see the Cubs winning it all back in 2016. For now we will always think of what could’ve been.
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