We heard earlier this afternoon that Prince Fielder could be headed for season-ending neck surgery. The worst-case scenario has been realized.
According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels just confirmed that Fielder is tentatively scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday to fuse the C-5 and C-6 disks in his neck. He’ll receive a second opinion later this week, but all indications are that he’ll have the surgery. The normal timeline for recovery is about 3-4 months, which essentially ends his season.
Today’s news is another brutal blow for the Rangers, who can’t seem to catch a break on the injury front. They currently have 13 players on the disabled list, including Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Matt Harrison, Tanner Scheppers, and Jurickson Profar.
Big things were expected from Fielder after he came over from the Tigers in the Ian Kinsler deal over the winter, but he was batting just .247/.360/.360 with three home runs and 16 RBI over 42 games prior to being shut down on Saturday. Long regarded for his durability, his consecutive games played streak was snapped at 547 games. The 30-year-old is still owed approximately $156 million through 2020, though the Tigers are covering $30 million of the total from 2016-2020. Still, that contract is starting to look pretty brutal.
The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal worth $64 million. The contract includes opt-outs after both 2020 and 2021, which is certainly good for Castellanos, allowing him to go back out on the market if he has a big year. Odd that the Reds would agree to that, but on an annual basis it’s kind of a bargain for them so you figure that has something to do with it.
With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.
Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.
Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.