Rangers DH Prince Fielder recently underwent major neck surgery for the second time in his career. At the very least, Fielder will miss the remainder of the 2016 season, but now comes this from Fox's Ken Rosenthal:
Sources: Prince Fielder's career appears over. #Rangers expected to hold press conference tomorrow.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 9, 2016
Sources have confirmed to multiple Rangers writers that Fielder is indeed done.
Source confirms report that Prince Fielder will retire from #Rangers following a second cervical fusion last month.— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) August 9, 2016
The Rangers will reportedly be able to get some financial relief from insurance, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News:
So of Fielder's $24 million, Rangers will get $6 million from Tigers; $9 million from insurance. Still responsible for $9 million— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) August 9, 2016
Fielder, 32, is batting .212/.292/.334 on the season with eight home runs in 89 games. Obviously, that's an unacceptable level of production for a DH, and no doubt his ongoing neck issues has much to do with his struggles. While Fielder has certainly run into his deep decline phase, he's had an impressive career: .283/.382/.506 (134 OPS+) across parts of 12 big-league seasons with the Brewers, Tigers, and Rangers.
Along the way, Fielder's made the All-Star team six times and thrice finished in the top five of the MVP balloting. While we tend to think of him as being a pull hitter reliant on power, that wasn't the case. The man could flat-out hit ...
Here's Prince Fielders career base hit spray chart... Great hitter! pic.twitter.com/hzg0OKKv6A— Daren Willman (@darenw) August 9, 2016
But there's also this bit of unfortunate symmetry:
If Prince Fielder's career is really over, he'll finish with 319 career HR, the exact same amount his father hit.— Dave (@gggiants) August 9, 2016
Fielder is of course still under contract through 2020 and has almost $100 million left on his contract (with the Tigers still paying $6 million per). That brings up this important distinction:
To be clear: Prince Fielder is not retiring. He is medically disabled and doctors will not clear him to play, sources say.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 9, 2016
If Fielder were retiring, then he'd be walking away from all that money. Since, instead, he's not able to play for medical reasons, the Rangers still must pay the balance of his contract. Suffice it to say, the November 2013 trade that sent Ian Kinsler to Detroit for Fielder is looking worse and worse from the Texas standpoint.
If this is indeed it, then Fielder leaves the game having enjoyed a tremendous peak, having helmed a baseball renaissance in Milwaukee, and having had a lot of fun along the way ...
Best wishes to Fielder and his family in whatever comes next, and here's hoping for a full recovery from the injury that's cutting short an excellent career.