Editor’s Note: This post has been updated.
Cubs shortstop Addison Russell is currently at Triple-A getting into game shape before becoming eligible to rejoin the major league squad on May 3 following a 40-game suspension. Russell was suspended for the final 11 games of the 2018 season and the first 29 games of the 2019 season under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.
Russell’s ex-wife Melisa Reidy came forward with allegations of domestic abuse in June 2017. She publicized elaborate details last year as well. The whole situation was even worse than we could have thought. MLB investigated the issue as soon as Reidy came forward and kept the investigation open.
The Cubs have not handled the Russell situation well at all. They allowed Russell to walk up to the song “Beat It” by Michael Jackson in April last year. Manager Joe Maddon really couldn’t have cared less about Russell’s wrongdoing. The Cubs chose to tender Russell a contract in the offseason, paying him $4.3 million this season.
Sheryl Ring of FanGraphs, who is also a lawyer, has allegedly spoken to a member of the media who alleged that the Cubs privately instructed that person to lay off Russell, allegedly threatening reprisal. The Cubs, meanwhile, are approving stories that paint Russell in a positive light, particularly in terms of redemption. One that comes to mind is an article published last week by Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports. Nightengale minimizes Russell’s behavior and sets him up as a fallen hero. Others have said they have heard the same as Ring, including Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus. (After publishing this on Sunday night, I received another confirmation of Ring’s report from another member of the media who wishes to keep their name private.)
The Cubs dispute the report and call it unfounded. They note Russell was made available to the press last Thursday without preset conditions.
If true, this is a gross abuse of power on the part of the Cubs, though it falls in line with the absurd way the organization has handled the Russell situation from day one. It’s also the same organization that willingly acquired reliever Aroldis Chapman after he was accused of domestic violence. The Cubs don’t have a good track record on this issue.