Prince Fielder Forced to Call It a Career, Will Make Record $106 Million Through 2020

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty)

Three years ago, slugger Prince Fielder might have appeared the least likely MLB player to have to end his career due to injury.

Sure, the round Texas Rangers first baseman and designated hitter doesn't look to be the picture of health, but in his previous eight seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers the big man played in all but 12 games.

Now, after two spinal fusion surgeries, he's being forced away from the game he loves.

"The doctors told me since I had two spinal fusions, I can't play Major League Baseball anymore," a tearful Fielder said at a press conference on Wednesday.

"So I want to just thank my teammates and the coaching staff. I'm going to really miss those guys. They're a lot a fun. I've been in a big league clubhouse since I was their age," he said, looking sons, 11-year-old Jadyn and 10-year-old Haven. "To not be able to play is going to be tough."

After a July game against the Los Angeles Angels, Fielder, a six-time All-Star, felt something was wrong and requested to see Dr. Robert Watkins.

"I can't explain it. When I did the test at the doctor's office, he asked me to walk a straight line, and I couldn't do it. I did it, but it was too much brain involved to walk a straight line."

"I think you need surgery, and I wouldn't advise you to play again," Watkins told Fielder. "I wouldn't let you play again."

His first surgery limited him to just 42 games in 2014, his first season with the Rangers. He returned to form in 2015, hitting .305/.378/.463 with 23 home runs and 98 RBI. But his production plummeted again this season before sitting out.

Fielder did not retire, however, for 106 million reasons.

He signed a nine-year, $214 million deal with Detroit before the 2012 season, and is still owed $106 million—$10 million for the remained of the year and $24 million in each of the next four seasons. The Tigers, who traded Fielder for Ian Kinsler prior to the 2014 season, are on the hook for a quarter of Fielder's salary.

That $106 million figure shatters the previous record for money paid out to a player after his career ended, which belonged to New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana, who collected $37.3 million after he had to step away from the game in 2012.

Mets fans shouldn't feel relieved that they've been knocked from the unenviable perch, though. The surgery that ended Fielder's career is the same one seven-time All-Star David Wright is recovering from. If Wright can't play again, he'll be in line for the second-most money after a career-ending injury: $81 million.

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