Infield plans from Fielder trade on hold

DETROIT -- On one Thursday afternoon, the entire Texas Rangers offseason plan for the right side of the infield in 2014 disappeared.

Trading for Prince Fielder a week before Thanksgiving was more than just adding a left-handed power bat to the middle of the lineup. It was also about freeing up the second base job for highly touted prospect Jurickson Profar.

On paper, it was a solid plan. Profar, who turned 21 in February, would get a chance to play an everyday position, something the club hoped would make him a better overall player. He hit .234 in 2013 and showed some flashes of ability, but was moving around to a variety of positions and never had a steady job. But by trading All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler to Detroit for Fielder, the Rangers opened up an infield spot for Profar.

Fielder was supposed to be that power bat the club didn't have in 2013 after Josh Hamilton signed with the Angels. He was supposed to club his way to at least 25 homers and 100 RBIs -- and maybe more than that in a park he liked and with a fresh start. Texas spent a lot of money and went an extra year on free agent Shin-Soo Choo in part because the Rangers knew Fielder would be one of those players able to knock the on-base-percentage specialist in.

But as of May 22, those plans are on hold until spring training 2015. Fielder is scheduled to have fusion surgery Tuesday to repair a herniated disk in his neck. Barring a second opinion that changes things, he is out for the season. That was the big news of the day. But it wasn't the only injury news, something that has become routine for the Rangers this season.

Profar has re-strained a muscle in his shoulder. He's been shut down and a timetable for his return has not been set. But the team was conservative with his rehab the first time and he wasn't able to return. Now it's eight to 12 weeks, at least, meaning it may be difficult for him to come back at all this season.

So the two key pieces involved in that 48-hour trade that brought Fielder to Arlington, Texas, and sent Kinsler to Detroit aren't likely to be in the infield together in 2014. It was supposed to be Fielder at first and Profar at second. Now, that plan is on hold for a year.

It's still early for both players. Fielder has six years left on his contract. Profar is still awaiting his first full year as a starter. But the trade was designed to get the team a return on its investment in 2014 and beyond. All that's left now is the beyond part.