Howard signs, Philly's top sports experts weigh in

Rupert PupkinCorrespondent IFebruary 10, 2009

Here's the rundown:

Ryan Howard has signed a 3 year, $54 million contract. Howard will make $15 million in 2009, $19 million in 2010, and $20 million in his walk year, 2011.

There is a clause that would require the Phillies to pay Howard $1 million if he is traded before Nov. 1, 2010.  There’s been a lot of talk about Howard leaving because he’ll get too pricey for the Phillies.  This deal would make it harder to trade him

Howard’s base salary would increase by $1 million in 2010 and 2011 if he was named MVP in the preceding season. There are also bonuses for World Series MVP ($100,000), LCS MVP ($50,000), Gold Glove ($50,000),  Silver Slugger ($100,000), and an All-Star selection $50,000.

Howard’s deal will earn him an average of $18 million per season over the next three years.  He will be the highest-paid Phillie, and the second-highest paid first baseman in all of baseball, behind only the Yankees’ Mark Texeira.

Here is a list (compliments of David Murphy) of the top ten contracts in baseball.  Note Howard at number 10.  Also note Howard will never make a salary of $18 million, it’s an average.

1. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, $27.5 million
2. C.C. Sabathia, Yankees, $23 million
3. Johan Santana, Mets, $22.9 million
4. Mark Teixeira, Yankees, $22.5 million
5. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, $19.037 million
6. Derek Jeter, Yankees, $18.9 million
7. Carlos Zambrano, Cubs, $18.3 million
8. Andruw Jones, Dodgers, $18.1 million
9. Torri Hunter, Angels, $18 million
T-10. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays, $18 million
T-10. Barry Zito, Giants, $18 million
T-10. Ryan Howard, Phillies, $18 million

So what does all of this mean?

The contract really seems to makes a lot of sense for both sides. The Phillies were watching Howard’s request become astronomical.  If they stuck with arbitration they could be looking at a number in the $20-30 million range.

Howard, meanwhile will make enough money to live off for life.  He has no risk of losing money due to injury or poor production.  If he keeps up the production in these three years, he’s looking at A-Rod money his walk year.

The Phillies Opening Day payroll will now break the $130 million mark.


So, what do the top Phillies authorities think of Howard’s contract?  I caught up with a few of them earlier:

Mike Sielski (Calkins Media, Columnist):

This is a deal that works for both sides. The Phillies don’t have to deal with arbitration hearings for Howard anymore, and Howard can still earn himself another big payday by 2011.


Christian Karcole (, Columnist):
Am I happy the Phillies got to lock Howard up and get to plan out their money spent for the next few years better now? Absolutely. Yet, as someone who sees a trade being inevitable, I would have rather seen the arbitration process over the next three years. The reason? Howard would have had to play harder each year to obtain more money. In other words, he would have to work for his money.

But with a contract, he has his money. He won’t have to play hard and put in as much work until the final year of the contract, where he’ll want to raise his value in a trade or free agency.

I’m not saying he will be a bust and will lose motivation. I’m just saying he might have had better production and higher trade value if The Phillies had not signed him.  What would happen if he doesn’t produce as well now? Then you are paying a guy $18 million to be a better than average player, and when you try to trade him, the money will be a huge problem.

Phil Sheridan (Philadelphia Inquirer, Columnist):
This deal is smart for both sides. The Phillies now have locked up their core players from a championship-winning team. The risk is low. It’s only a three-year deal and Howard has proven himself one of the best players in baseball. It doesn’t get much more clear-cut than that.

John Finger (, Phillies writer/blogger):
If nothing else, the Phillies’ three-year deal for Ryan Howard ensures that the club’s biggest drawing card doesn’t end up in Boston or New York or somewhere else where the pockets of the decision-makers are the deepest element. With Howard in Philly for three more seasons, the Phillies can count on sellout crowds and increased revenues even when a global economic crisis grips the rest of the world. Dare we say the Phillies, with their $130 million payroll are about to join ranks with the Yankees and Red Sox as a big-market club?



Phil Andrews (Former TV personality, Comcast SportsNet, 6ABC)
Given what Ryan Howard has meant to the Phillies since arriving as a rookie, three years, $54 million is a nice reward.


Mike Radano (Former Phillies beat writer, Courier Post):
This is a good deal for both parties but I believe in the end it will favor the Phillies in the long term.

First of all, Ryan Howard gets the kind of deal he had hoped for at $54 million over three years. That said, the first year is worth $15 million and that’s closer to the Phillies arbitration offer.

To me, the Phillies get three relatively quiet years of payroll stability. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Ryan Howard are all signed and can focus on one thing, that’s baseball.

More importantly, this gives the Phillies three years to decide whether Ryan Howard is worthy of a longer contract. He’ll have to prove himself on the field and in the end, he may be better suited for the American League once he gets to 30 years old.

Overall, I’d say Ruben Amaro Jr. has had a great first three months.


Michael Barkann (Comcast SportsNet, talent)

I think it’s a great deal for both sides.  Howard gets his money and he has that emotional weight off his shoulders for three years, and the Phillies get a once and future MVP and cost certainty.  I mean, if Howard goes to arbitration next year, does he get more than $18 million or not?


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