The Rangers announced that they have placed both Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo on the 15-day disabled list, although the injury to Fielder appears to be fairly serious in nature. Fielder has been diagnosed with a herniated disk in his neck — a different disk than the one that required neck surgery in 2014 — and MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that surgery has been recommended as an option (Twitter link). He’s set to meet with the surgeon who performed his last neck operation for a second opinion. Choo, meanwhile, has lower inflammation in his back. The pair will be replaced by Delino DeShields and Hanser Alberto, per the Rangers’ announcement.
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Originally acquired from the Tigers (along with cash considerations) in exchange for Ian Kinsler, Fielder struggled mightily in his first season with Texas (2014) before ultimately succumbing to neck surgery. He rebounded in magnificent fashion last year, slashing .305/.378/.463 with 23 homers and 28 doubles — his most productive campaign since 2012. However, Fielder has been in what has appeared to be a season-long slump at the plate in 2016 and has looked very much like the 2014 iteration of himself, hitting just .212/.292/.334 through 370 plate appearances. Fielder had been among baseball’s most durable players at the time of his acquisition, missing just one of 810 games from 2009-13. However, the Rangers are now faced with the possibility of seeing a second season lost to neck injuries, with Fielder still under control for another four years beyond the current campaign. While the Tigers are paying $6MM of Fielder’s salary on an annual basis, the Rangers still owe him an additional $18MM per year through the 2020 season.
The hope for Choo, Sullivan tweets, is that he’ll be back in the minimum amount of time necessary for his stint on the disabled list. General manager Jon Daniels, it should be noted, told reporters that the pair of injuries doesn’t alter the club’s approach at the trade deadline this year (Twitter link via Sullivan). The Rangers’ main focus at the deadline will continue to be on bolstering the pitching staff rather than adding another bat.