Oakland A’s: Addison Russell’s disappointing career at crossroads
By David Hill
Former Oakland A’s top prospect Addison Russell will not be returning to the Kiwoom Heroes of the KBO. His career is at a crossroads.
From 2013 through 2015, Addison Russell was considered one of the top prospects in baseball. A consensus top 50 prospect prior to the 2013 season, the one time Oakland A’s farmhand had been considered a top five overall prospect heading into the 2015 campaign. By that time he was a part of the Cubs organization, part of the package that was sent to Chicago for Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija.
For a time, it appeared as though Russell would reach those heights. He was solid for his first two major league seasons, being named to the 2016 All Star Game. The sky seemed to be the limit.
Then he started to slip with the bat in 2017. It was written off as just a rough season for the then 23 year old, nothing to worry about. Then he continued to struggle in every area of his game in 2018 and 2019. Additionally, he was suspended for violating the league’s domestic violence policy. The Cubs finally had enough, choosing not to offer him arbitration in that offseason.
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With no major league opportunities, Russell headed to Korea in an attempt to resurrect his career. Instead, he struggled with the Kiwoom Heroes, producing a disappointing .254/.317/.336 batting line with 14 doubles and two homers in 271 plate appearances while making 12 errors in the field. Unsurprisingly, the Heroes have decided not to bring Russell back in 2021.
Now Russell finds himself at a crossroads that no one could have imagined just five years ago. Although he will be turning 27 years old, his career is on life support. He may well return to the Korean Baseball Organization with another team, or find himself in the independent leagues or a different foreign league. But his major league opportunities are gone for now.
That being said, there is time for Russell to turn his career trajectory around. He could have a strong wherever he ends up in 2021, earning another look in some team’s organization. But time is running out for that to happen. Russell, once considered a can’t miss prospect, has missed.
Former Oakland A’s top prospect Addison Russell is at a career crossroads. The 2021 season may be his final chance to turn his future around.