Former Chicago Cubs infielder Addison Russell will attempt to revive his career overseas. Russell has signed one-year contract with the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News. He'll make $530,000 the remainder of this season after receiving little to no interest this winter.
Russell, 26, was non-tendered in December and became a free agent. He was suspended 40 games under MLB's domestic violence policy in late 2018 -- he served the final 28 games of the suspension last season -- after his ex-wife, Melissa Reidy, publicly revealed details of physical and emotional abuse when the two were married.
Heroes GM Chi-Hyun Kim told Yoo the team did its due diligence and looked in Russell's past. Kim said Scott Boras, Russell's agent, told him his client was suspended for a text message rather than physical abuse. Reidy originally declined to speak to MLB's investigators. Russell had to complete a treatment program as part of his punishment.
"If he had engaged in physical abuse, he would have been banned for 80 games, but he served only 40 games," Kim told Yoo. "Obviously, what he did was wrong, but we felt it wasn't bad enough that he should no longer play baseball."
Russell spent part of last season in Triple-A following his suspension, where he authored a .281/.387/.563 batting line in 27 games. He hit only .237/.308/.391 in 82 games with the Cubs, however, and he owns a .243/.310/.379 batting line in over 1,000 big league plate appearances since his All-Star season in 2016.
Interestingly enough, Kim told Yoo the Heroes initially tried to sign outfielder Yasiel Puig, but Puig opted to continue pursuing a deal with an MLB team. "We felt we had a chance to sign him. But Puig decided he should give MLB another shot," Kim said. Puig remains an unsigned free agent.
KBO teams are allowed to have three foreign-born players. Russell is replacing utility man and former big leaguer Taylor Motter, who was released last month. Yoo note the Heroes already have All-Star caliber players at second and short. They signed Russell for his his offensive potential and will figure out where to play him when the time comes.
The KBO season opened a little more than six weeks ago and games are still being played without fans. Russell will have to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine for all international travelers into South Korea before joining the Heroes.