NOTE: You can read full statements from Addison Russell and Theo Epstein at the bottom of this story.
In the wake of domestic violence allegations against him, Addison Russell has been tendered a non-guaranteed contract by the Chicago Cubs ahead of Friday’s MLB deadline to offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players.
Russell and Cubs President Theo Epstein both issued statements after the decision, saying that Russell will work with counsellors and charity groups as he serves a suspension over allegations that he abused his ex-wife.
“The behaviour that led to Addison Russell’s suspension under MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence Policy happened on our watch,” Epstein said in a statement. “If you’re willing to accept credit when a member of our organization succeeds on the field, what should we do if he engages in conduct off the field worthy of discipline from MLB?
“We have chosen to take action to try to become a small part of the solution for Addison, his family, Melisa Reidy, and the larger issue of domestic violence prevention,” he added.
Epstein said that the team has offered Russell a non-guaranteed contract, but cautions that “it does not represent the finish line nor rubber stamp his future as a Cub.”
Russell also issued a statement, saying that he will continue meeting with experts, counsellors, and therapists.
“After I have done my own therapy and gained new insights into myself, I hope to be able to work with non-profit groups in Pensacola, Chicago, and Arizona to support their missions and become part of the solution,” Russell said. “While there is a lot of work ahead for me to earn back the trust of Cubs fans, my teammates, and the entire organization, it’s work that I am 110 percent committed to doing.”
Russell will be suspended at the beginning of the 2019 season as a result of allegations that he physically and emotionally abused his ex-wife. He was placed on administrative leave by the Cubs after the allegations came to light late in the 2018 season.
Here is Addison Russell's Full Statement:
“I offer my heartfelt apology to my family and my former wife Melisa for my past behavior. I also want to apologize to Cubs fans, the Cubs organization, and my teammates for letting them down. 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. Here are the first steps I’ve taken:
“I accepted my suspension and did not appeal. I am responsible for my actions.
“I am complying with the MLB-MLBPA treatment plan, and I will be meeting regularly with different experts, counselors, and therapists. Even before any mandated treatment, I took the extra initiative of obtaining my own therapist and I have been meeting with that therapist several times a week for the last two months and plan to continue this therapy beyond the MLB treatment plan. With that therapy, I am attempting to improve myself by learning new outlooks and understanding different emotions.
“After I have done my own therapy and gained new insights into myself, I hope to be able to work with non-profit groups in Pensacola, Chicago, and Arizona to support their missions and become part of the solution.
“Finally, I recently met with Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein to explain my progress and goals. They outlined the Cubs’ expectations for me. I accept and am completely committed to meeting those expectations. I am grateful for their support.
“I am just in the early stages of this process. 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. While there is a lot of work ahead for me to earn back the trust of the Cubs fans, my teammates, and the entire organization, it’s work that I am 110 percent committed to doing.”
Here is the full statement from Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein:
“The behavior that led to Addison Russell’s suspension under Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence Policy happened on our watch. We traded for Addison when he was a 20-year-old Double-A player, helped him develop into a world champion and welcomed the praise that came along with his triumphs.
“If we’re willing to accept credit when a member of our organization succeeds on the field, what should we do if he engages in conduct off the field worthy of discipline from Major League Baseball?
“After a very thorough process, we have chosen to take action to try to become a small part of the solution for Addison, his family, Melisa Reidy and the larger issue of domestic violence prevention. In determining our path forward, we’ve maintained regular dialogue with Melisa to support her and to listen. We’ve also consulted with a number of domestic violence experts. Over the past few months, I’ve maintained frequent communication with Addison, and Cubs personnel have met with him regularly. Earlier this week, Tom Ricketts and I met with Addison in Chicago to assess his progress and communicate our expectations as he works to earn back the trust of our fans and entire organization. He affirmed he understands and accepts those expectations.
“As Addison detailed in his statement, he has taken the initial steps to hold himself accountable for his past behavior and begin the rehabilitation process. He is working closely with his own therapist – help he proactively sought on his own beyond the league-mandated treatment – and plans to continue this work once the mandated program is completed. We are encouraged by his early effort and will continue to evaluate and verify his progress.
“Today, we are taking the procedural step of tendering Addison a non-guaranteed contract in conjunction with Major League Baseball’s deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. While this decision leaves the door open for Addison to later make an impact for us on the field, it does not represent the finish line nor rubber-stamp his future as a Cub. It does however reflect our support for him as long as he continues to make progress and demonstrates his commitment to these important issues.
“Just as Addison has a responsibility to own his actions and put in significant work to grow, our organization has a responsibility to act as well. We’re taking a hard look at how we can support domestic violence prevention. In our own workplace, we are dedicating more resources to expand training for our players, their families and our coaching staff and front office. We will engage the appropriate experts to help us design programs for the Cubs which raise awareness of domestic violence, help prevent future incidents and make us the safest workplace possible. We also have connected with Family Rescue, a Chicago-based organization dedicated to serving survivors of domestic violence and community education and prevention. We’re exploring ways we can support their award-winning efforts to eradicate domestic violence in Chicago.
“We understand every action we take and word we use sends a message to our fans – all of whom have their own unique experiences and perspectives, and some of whom have a personal connection to domestic violence. The message we would like to leave you with is we take the issue of domestic violence seriously. There is a long road ahead for Addison, and we will hold him accountable. There also is a long road ahead for our organization as we attempt to make some good of this situation. We are committed to being a part of the solution.”