It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Just a few months after falling a game short of the postseason and weeks after dealing for slugging first baseman Prince Fielder, the Rangers signed Shin-Soo Choo to a seven-year, $130 million deal to be the final piece of the puzzle. Coming off a year in which he hit .285/.423/.462 with 21 homers, 20 steals and 107 runs scored, Choo demanded one of the largest contracts on the free agent market. He was a star going to a team and a ballpark that would make him a superstar.
Instead, Choo struggled for the vast majority of his first season in Arlington, a season that will mercifully end later this week when he'll undergo surgery to remove a bone spur in his left elbow. The elbow has given him trouble since spring, and Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the timing, with the Rangers a distant afterthought in the American League West, was right.
“The reason we’re going to do it [now] is it’s about a six- to eight-week recovery and by the end October he would be 100 percent and have completely “normal” off-season,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “We want everyone 100 percent for 2015.”
Choo's season ends after 123 games in which the 32-year-old batted .242/.340/.374 with 13 home runs and three steals. He joins a laundry list of Rangers already on the sidelines, as the team has played without Fielder, Jurickson Profar, Martin Perez, Mitch Moreland, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and others who have missed most of all of the season. That list doesn't include Yu Darvish (more on him later) and Derek Holland (more on him later), neither of whom will have made more than 22 starts by season's end.
When everyday players go down with an injury there is usually fantasy fallout worth mentioning -- when one door closes another one opens, etc. -- but the Rangers have been so ravaged by injuries that they'll be forced to rely on the likes of Jim Adduci and Daniel Robertson in corner outfield spots from now until the end of the season.
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The Cubs are primed to give everyone another glimpse into their future.
Less than a month after the debut of top prospect Javier Baez, the Cubs will showcase another premium talent when Jorge Soler joins the team in Cincinnati on Wednesday. In what amounts to a walk-off homer, Soler hit a three-run blast in his final minor league at-bat Monday before being removed from the game to begin his journey to the majors.
Heading into Monday's action, the 22-year-old was batting .338/.432/.687 with 14 home runs and 54 RBI through 61 games across three minor league levels this season. His most recent stop was Triple-A Iowa, where Soler hit .282 with eight home runs in 32 games.
That power is what prompted the Cubs to give Soler a nine-year, $30 million contract in 2012, and it's what he'll offer for fantasy owners -- much like Baez -- in his September cameo. The recent struggles of Gregory Polanco and Oscar Taveras illustrate the problem with relying on rookies for meaningful production, but Soler makes for a worthwhile lottery ticket for fantasy owners in need of pop.
Darvish Down and Out?
Perhaps you've heard, but the Rangers have had a season to forget.
That season got worse with the Choo news, but it wasn't the only big story coming out of Arlington on Monday. Daniels also commented on the status of Darvish, who hasn't pitched since August 9 with mild inflammation in his right elbow.
Daniels said the Rangers' ace is facing long odds of returning in 2014.
“Once a guy’s down for three weeks or four weeks, you’re not just going out there into a big league game,” Daniels said. “The calendar is working against us in that regard.”
Darvish has missed nearly three weeks with the injury, and he's not likely to pick up a ball during the Rangers' current 10-game roadtrip. Even when he is able to begin throwing, with nearly a month off the right-hander would need to complete a throwing program before he could pitch in a regular season game.
If Darvish's season is over, the 28-year-old will finish with a 10-7 record, 3.06 ERA and 182/49 K/BB ratio over 144 1/3 innings this season. It would mark the third straight season he's lowered his walk percentage and FIP since entering the league in 2012, a promising trend for the right-hander.
National League Quick Hits: Having seen enough, Giants manager Bruce Bochy officially moved Tim Lincecum to the bullpen Monday. Lincecum owns a 4.64 ERA through 26 starts (and one save). Yusmeiro Petit will take Lincecum's rotation spot, and owners in NL-only leagues should sit up and take notice ... Yadier Molina (thumb) will begin a rehab assignment on Wednesday. If all goes well, Molina could be back with the Cardinals before the start of September ... Amid retirement questions, A.J. Burnett showed he's still got something in the tank Monday, striking out 12 Nationals hitters in a victory. Burnett had lost his previous six starts before the 3-2 win ... Charlie Morton (hip) will begin a rehab assignment at Double-A Altoona on Thursday. His return to the Pirates will dovetail nicely with Vance Worley turning back into a pumpkin ... In a shocking development, Carlos Quentin (knee) is "more than likely" done for the season according to Padres manager Bud Black. It would make this the third consecutive season Quentin has failed to play in at least 90 games.
American League Quick Hits: The Rangers do have one piece of good news to celebrate, as starter Derek Holland (back) will rejoin the rotation next week. Holland hasn't pitched an inning this season after offseason knee surgery and, more recently, back spasms ... Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said he's hoping George Springer (quad) will be ready for the September 2-3 series against the Angels. Springer hasn't played since July 19, when a quad strain derailed a pretty strong rookie season for the 24-year-old ... Michael Pineda earned his first win since April on Monday, holding the Royals to one run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander is 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA through seven starts on the season ... Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon cleared waivers, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but what makes this an American League note is Colon's likely destination in a potential trade. After losing Garrett Richards last week, the Angels would appear to be the smart money as far as a suitor for the 41-year-old. Colon is 12-10 with a 3.82 ERA for the Mets this season.