Friday was the deadline for major league teams to tender contracts to unsigned players on the 40-man roster, and the decision typically is based on talent and financial considerations.
In the case of the Cubs and shortstop Addison Russell, there was another factor.
Russell was suspended 40 games Oct. 3 (retroactive to Sept. 21) for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. He is not eligible to be activated until May 3.
Russell is facing allegations that he abused his ex-wife.
On Friday, the Cubs tendered Russell a contract. It is not guaranteed.
“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,” team President Theo Epstein said in a statement. “It does, however, reflect our support for him as long as he continues to make progress and demonstrates his commitment to these important issues.”
Russell, 24, also released a statement Friday:
“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 nonprofit groups in Pensacola, Chicago and Arizona to support their missions and become part of the solution.
"• Finally, I recently met with (Cubs owner) 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.”
The Cubs could have nontendered Russell and let him become a free agent.
“The behavior that led to Addison Russell’s suspension under Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence Policy happened on our watch,” Epstein said. “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.”
In four seasons Russell is a .242 hitter with 51 home runs and 230 RBI. Last year he had 5 homers and 38 RBI in 130 games.