Former MLB All-Star Addison Russell Heads to KBO

Addison Russell is signing with a KBO team
© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Kiwoom Heroes have agreed to sign former major league shortstop and second baseman Addison Russell for the rest of the 2020 KBO season.

Addison Russell Goes Overseas to KBO

Failing to receive any offers this offseason, Russell opted to go to the KBO in hopes of jump starting his career.

The deal will pay him $530,000 for the rest of the season, according to Yoo Jee-ho of the Yonhap News Agency.

Initially, the Heroes were interested in signing OF Yasiel Puig to bolster their outfield. However, Puig turned down the offer in hopes of continuing his major league career.

KBO teams can have three foreign-born players – two pitchers and one position player. Russell will take Taylor Motter’s place. The Heroes released the 30-year-old Motter after failing to adapt to Korean baseball, batting .114/.139./.200 with a .339 OPS in 10 games.

Addison Russell suspended by MLB after alleged domestic abuse

It’s been a quick fall from grace for Russell. An All-Star in 2016 with the Chicago Cubs, Russell’s career has been mired in controversy, both off and on the field. He was suspended to start the 2019 MLB season following allegations from his wife that he abused her.

Upon his return Russell was booed by fans in his return and ultimately was let go at the conclusion of the season.

Despite this, the Heroes feel comfortable signing the former MLB star:

“If he had engaged in physical abuse he would have been banned for 80 games, but he only served 40 games,” Heroes general manager Kim Chi-Huyn said in a statement. “Obviously, what he did was wrong but we felt it wasn’t bad enough that he should no longer play baseball.”

Will Addison Russell put up big stats in Korea?

With the KBO being an offense-heavy league, expect Russell to put up numbers similar to his MLB stats. A career .242/.312/.392 hitter, Russell burst onto the scene in 2016, blasting 21 home runs and 95 RBI in similar splits. Also, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series that year, their first in 100 years.

However, it shouldn’t be surprising if the time away will cause his production to dip, considering he hit .237/.308/.391 with nine home runs and 23 RBI in 2019. Russell only played in 82 games last year after serving a 40-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy.

Although Russell is set to arrive in South Korea soon, he will not play until mid-late July. Once players arrive, they must undergo a 14-day quarantine and then spend a few weeks in a simulated spring training. Only then will they be allowed to play.

Russell will join a Heroes squad that’s third in KBO at 26-17. They are currently on a six-game winning streak.