Mac Engel

Detroit Tigers pulled a fast one over on Rangers in Fielder trade

Prince Fielder, who is expected to miss the rest of the season after having neck surgery, will be 33 next year and will have played one injury-free season in the past three years.
Prince Fielder, who is expected to miss the rest of the season after having neck surgery, will be 33 next year and will have played one injury-free season in the past three years. rmallison@star-telegram.com

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 and Just Say Hell No.

Horribly dated analogies aside, now we know why the Detroit Tigers were so eager to deal their former prized free agent signee to the Rangers in November of 2013 in exchange for Ian Kinsler.

It’s official — acquiring Prince ranks with Alex Rodriguez and Chan Ho Park as the worst “jewel” signings this franchise has made this century. What does this trio share in common? The answer rhymes with Scott Boras.

The disturbing element to Rangers GM Jon Daniels’ announcement on Monday afternoon that the recommendation has been made to Prince Fielder to have another season-ending neck surgery is that it’s not a morale killer to the clubhouse.

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 Prince has done so little this season — or for the last year —Monday’s news 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.

I asked JD 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,” JD said.

It’s always tricky for a sportswriter to delve into weight/conditioning but judge it however you want.

What can be judged easily is the Prince-for-Kinsler-and-$30 million deal fits squarely in the “If It Sounds To Good to be True, Run In the Other Direction” category.

Other than the first half of the 2015 season where he batted .339 with 14 homers and 54 RBIs, 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 JD 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 everyday player. Prince appeared in no less than 157 games from 2006 to 2013. That says the guy cares and was not cashing checks.

He was good, but there was also a reason why the Detroit Tigers wanted him gone. Now we know why.

The type of back/neck injuries he has suffered since arriving to the Ballpark 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.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

  Comments