Cubs keep suspended shortstop Russell
Speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton and 2017 All-Stars Avisail Garcia and Jonathan Schoop became free agents when they were among 43 players cut loose by teams that failed to offer 2019 contracts, but the Chicago Cubs hung onto shortstop Addison Russell despite his 40-game domestic violence suspension that extends until May.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein called the decision a procedural step and said it “does not represent the finish line nor rubber-stamp his future” with them.
“It does, however, reflect our support for him as long as he continues to make progress and demonstrates his commitment to these important issues,” Epstein added Friday.
Russell accepted the suspension following allegations made by his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy. Though Russell has denied the allegations, he apologized to Reidy and his family for “my past behavior.”
“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 in a statement issued by the Cubs.
Russell said he will meet regularly with experts and counselors mandated by his treatment plan. He also plans to keep working with his own therapist, whom he has been seeing several times a week for two months.
“I am just in the early stages of this process,” Russell said. “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.”
Teams had a Friday evening deadline to offer contracts to unsigned players on their 40-man rosters, the last chance to release salary arbitrationeligible players at no cost.
Hamilton, 28, hit .236 with four homers and 29 RBIs for last-place Cincinnati as his stolen bases dropped to 34, and the Reds did not want to pay the raise he would get in arbitration from his $4.6 million salary. He swiped 56 bases in 2014 and increased his total by one annually in each of the next three seasons.
Garcia was limited to 93 games last season for the White Sox because of discomfort in his right knee that led to surgery in October, and his batting average dropped from
.330 to .236, too much of a decline for Chicago, given the $6.7 million he won in arbitration last February.
Schoop spent his entire career with Baltimore before Milwaukee acquired the second baseman at the July 31 trade deadline for second baseman Jonathan Villar and two prospects. Schoop hit .202 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 46 games for the Brewers, then was 0 for 8 in the postseason. He made $8.5 million.
Others set free included Baltimore third baseman Tim Beckham and catcher Caleb Joseph; Detroit catcher James McCann and pitcher Alex Wilson; Los Angeles Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker; Minnesota outfielder Robbie Grossman; Oakland pitchers Mike Fiers, Cory Gearrin and Kendall Graveman; New York Mets infielder Wilmer Flores; Philadelphia first baseman Justin Bour; and San Fran- cisco pitcher Hunter Strickland.
Among players who agreed to one-year contracts ahead of the deadline were Minnesota first baseman C.J. Cron, who hit 30 home runs for Tampa Bay, then was claimed off waivers. He got a $4.8 million deal.
San Francisco reached agreements with reliever Sam Dyson at $5 million and second baseman Joe Panik at $3.85 million.
Others agreeing included Cleveland righthander Danny Salazar ($4.5 million), Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Anthony Cingrani ($2.65 million), Atlanta lefthander Jonny Venters ($2.25 million) and Oakland right-hander Liam Hendriks ($2.15 million).
Suspended shortstop Addison Russell has been offered a 2019 contract by the Chicago Cubs.