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Ryan Howard's 5-year, $125 million extension has been criticized since he signed the deal last April.
The contract kicks in next season and will pay Howard annual amounts of $20 million in 2012 and 2013. That will escalate to $25 million per year from 2014-2016.
Ryan Howard is one of the most misunderstood power sources in baseball. Although he hit just 31 homers in 2010, the slugging first baseman hit 45 or more in each of the previous four seasons and he owns a .944 career OPS.
However, at the age of 31, Howard's elite power skills likely won't hold up much longer. Big bodies eventually break down, and Ryan Howard isn't any more likely to break that trend than his predecessors.
Although he should remain a legitimate power threat for at least the next few years, Howard is extremely unlikely to live up to the expectations of his contract once his salary climbs to $25 million per season.
The St. Louis Cardinals have thus far had an issue re-signing their own aging slugger. Albert Pujols is just two months younger than Howard, but he is reportedly seeking a 10-year contract that would be the richest in baseball history.
The St. Louis Cardinals don't want to become the next Cleveland Cavaliers. They don't want to see their superstar player leave town via free agency without anything to show for it (well, two first round draft picks, but still).
Ryan Howard is a St. Louis native. Although he likely won't be worth the money he's owed, his contract isn't nearly as lucrative as the one Pujols likely desires.
It is extremely doubtful that the Cardinals look to trade their star mid-season. But rumors will begin to circulate. There are few players in Major League Baseball that the Phillies would trade Ryan Howard for.
Albert Pujols is on that shortlist.
Ultimately, nothing will happen. But the pieces are in place to make people talk about it, at least.