After a mostly lost year, partly spent trying to make a go of it in South Korea’s top professional league, the KBO, Addison Russell is back in North America trying to extend his professional baseball career.
This time, it’s with the Acereros de Monclova of the top professional league in Mexico. And Russell is accompanied by a legendary, soon-to-be 48-year-old pitcher:
Bartolo Colon figures to get more of the headlines, but it’s Russell who is still only 27 years old and could have a future in state side professional baseball if he could reestablish himself. And if a team were willing to look past his lengthy suspension in MLB for domestic violence, to say nothing of the underlying behavior that led to that suspension in the first place. That might be a tall hurdle, regardless of his performance.
A former Cubs prospect who was an important part of the very good Cubs teams in 2015-16, Russell stagnated in 2017, was suspended for domestic violence to end his 2018 season, and then struggled in every way in 2019 when the Cubs decided to bring him back. He was at one point sent to Triple-A Iowa because of a lack of focus, inexcusable mistakes, and performance that couldn’t justify a spot on the roster. It was an ugly ending to what was already an ugly chapter, and underscored why the Cubs almost certainly should have separated from him the prior year.
Russell’s 2020 season the KBO was deeply underwhelming, so it’s possible the Mexican League is his last chance to extend his career.
As for Colon, who last pitched in the big leagues three years ago, I wonder if this is just a chance to have some fun doing what he’s done for his whole life. Colon did not pitch professionally in 2019 or 2020, so this is a comeback of sorts, to the extent one can come back just shy of their 48th birthday.