Getting Fielder from Tigers was bad deal for Rangers

Mac Engel
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Prince Fielder

Arlington, Texas — Note to self: When a team wants to send you an All-Star first baseman plus give you $30 million to take him off their hands, do as Nancy Reagan did and Just Say No.

Horribly dated analogies aside, it’s now clear that the Rangers made a mistake in acquiring the Tigers’ former prized free-agent signee, Prince Fielder, in November 2013 in exchange for Ian Kinsler.

It's official — acquiring Fielder ranks with Alex Rodriguez and Chan Ho Park as the worst "jewel" signings the Rangers franchise has made this century.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels announced Monday that the recommendation has been made to Fielder to have another season-ending neck surgery.

Hard to get too upset about a guy hitting .212 — even if he has 44 RBIs — missing the rest of the season.

The "good" news is now Jurickson Profar will most likely be able to play every day, and the hole is open for Joey Gallo to be this club's first baseman next season, assuming he doesn't get traded here shortly.

Even if Fielder has done so little this season — or for the last year —Monday's news was a big blow and an indictment on the decision to bring him here in the first place. Never trust a big-payroll team that wants to unload a superstar and is willing to send millions to make him go away.

One of the more popular theories / fears about Prince, since the time he broke into the bigs in 2005, is that his body would eventually break down. Prince, like his dad, is a giant of a man with plenty of thigh, stomach, forearms and biceps to go around.

His dad, Cecil, was just a fat guy and that weight could not have helped. Prince, since the time he was a kid, has always looked like a big guy on a smaller frame.

Dombrowski has Tigers in his rearview mirror

I asked Daniels if, in order to prolong his career, Prince may need to lose weight to take pressure off that frame.

"I think it's a little bit offensive, honestly," he said. "This guy produced at the same weight — Hall of Fame trajectory early in his career."

There is no correlation between this injury and being a bigger guy?

"You'll have to ask a spinal surgeon that," Daniels said.

Other than the first half of the 2015 season, when he batted .339 with 14 homers and 54 RBI, the acquisition of Prince has been nothing but a major disappointment. He is signed through 2020, but to expect that Prince is going to be this club's Opening Day first baseman in 2017 requires an unnecessary leap of faith.

This is the second time in the past three years Fielder will require major neck surgery, and it now looks like he is following in the same path as his famous daddy.

Prince is a far better hitter than his dad, whose career fell off at 32 and he was out of the game by 34.

Prince will be 33 next year and he will have played one injury-free season in the past three years. Listening to Rangers manager Jeff Banister speak on Monday, it sounds like he's not sure Prince was injury-free in the second half of last season.

Prince clearly was not healthy this season, and Daniels hinted that Prince was feeling symptoms of this latest injury but did not tell everybody what he had been fighting through for a while.

"There were still moments," Banister said. "He still hit eight home runs — not one of them is cheap. There were still times the ball came off his bat. ... This guy loves to compete as much as anybody in Major League Baseball. I feel more for him based on what I know about him."

What we know about Prince is that before arrived to the Rangers, he was the model every-day player. Prince appeared in no less than 157 games from 2006 to 2013. That says the guy cares and was not cashing checks.

The type of back / neck injuries he has suffered since arriving in Texas says there was a price to be paid for all of those games, swings and time on his feet.

The Rangers are picking up that check, too, and there is nothing the Tigers included in the trade that can offset that reality.