The Chicago Cubs tendered a non-guaranteed contract to shortstop Addison Russell amid his 40-game suspension for domestic violence, the club announced Friday.
Russell, who is eligible for arbitration, will miss the first month of next season after accepting the suspension in October. The shortstop was first placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball in September after his ex-wife Melisa Reidy released a blog post detailing a history of physical and emotional abuse.
Even though the Cubs tendered Russell, it doesn't mean he will play for them next year. The contract keeps him from becoming a free agent.
"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," President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said in a statement. "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."
Epstein also said Russell's behavior that led to his suspension "happened on our watch" and the organization is "encouraged by his early effort and will continue to evaluate and verify his progress."
Russell also released a statement, saying he is "responsible for my actions."
"I offer my heartfelt apology to my family and my former wife Melisa for my past behavior," Russell said. "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."
He added that he has complied with his MLB-MLBPA treatment plan and began meeting with a therapist before any mandated treatment was required. He hopes to work with non-profit groups in Pensacola, Chicago and Arizona.
The league's investigation first began in 2017 when Reidy's friend levied allegations of abuse against Russell in an Instagram comment after Reidy posted cheating allegations. The post has since been deleted. Reidy did not speak with Major League Baseball in 2017 and Russell denied the allegations upon his return to Chicago. The investigation remained open and Reidy spoke with investigators in 2018.