Team president Theo Epstein understands that some might not agree with the Cubs’ decision to keep shortstop Addison Russell on their roster.
“If he’s booed, I think people have the right to boo,” Epstein said Friday before the Cubs Convention’s opening ceremonies. “He doesn’t deserve to be welcomed back unconditionally or with open arms.”
The Cubs chose not to walk away from Russell, who was suspended in November by Major League Baseball after a lengthy investigation into domestic-violence allegations made by his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy. According to Epstein, Reidy supported the team’s decision because “she felt this was Addison’s best chance to get his life in order.”
Epstein has made it clear that this is a last chance for Russell, who signed a $3.4 million non-guaranteed contract earlier this month. Epstein denied that Russell’s deal — which includes $600,000 worth of roster bonuses — was structured in a way to help him earn back some of the money he’ll lose when he serves the remaining 28 games of his suspension.
“He does not get paid — nor does he deserve to get paid — while he’s serving the suspension nor will he get paid if he’s not with the organization,” Epstein said.
Russell won’t be at the Cubs Convention this weekend, but he’s expected to be a full participant in spring training.
But there is a condition: Russell has to continue to show improvement and meet the standards set by MLB and the Cubs, Epstein said.
“We’re probably in the top of the second inning with this story,” Epstein said. “He’s got a ton of work ahead of him, and it may not work. And if it doesn’t, we will move on instantaneously.”