CHICAGO — The Cubs offered shortstop Addison Russell a 2019 contract while maintaining on Friday that his future with the team was not certain.
Russell is serving a 40-game domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball after his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, accused him in a blog post of years of physical and emotional abuse.
Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president for baseball operations, called the decision a “procedural step” and said it did “not represent the finish line nor rubber stamp his future” with the club.
“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 added.
Teams had a deadline of Friday to offer contracts to unsigned players on their 40-man rosters.
Russell accepted the suspension in October for violating the league’s domestic violence policy. Though Russell has denied the allegations, he apologized to Reidy and his family for “my past behavior.”
Russell had a $3.2 million salary last season. His unpaid suspension includes the 11 regular-season games he missed after being placed on administrative leave Sept. 21. Russell will be eligible to return on May 3, against St. Louis, barring any postponements.
“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,” Russell said in a statement issued by the Cubs.
Russell said he would meet regularly with experts and counselors mandated by his treatment plan. He said he also planned to keep working with his own therapist, whom he has been seeing several times a week for the past two months.
He also hopes to work with nonprofit groups in Pensacola, Fla., his hometown, as well as Chicago and Arizona “to become part of the solution.”
“I am just in the early stages of this process,” Russell said. “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.”
Epstein said the Cubs had consulted with domestic violence experts to help them raise awareness and prevent more incidents, and the team had remained in touch with Reidy “to support her and to listen.” Epstein said he and the franchise’s chairman, Tom Ricketts, met with Russell in Chicago this week to “assess his progress and communicate our expectations as he works to earn back the trust of our fans and entire organization.”