Phillies Sign Howard For Three Years
If you saw the Phillies and Ryan Howard coming to an agreement before an arbitration hearing, well, we're tempted to call your bluff. That being said, anyone who would have predicted that eventuality would also be prescient, because the slugging first baseman and Philadelphia have reportedly struck a three-year deal worth $54 million.
The deal was first reported by mlb.com writer Todd Zolecki, and Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer just before noon today. Salisbury now has quotes from both Phillies GM Ruben Amaro and Ryan Howard about the deal.
There's also an interesting trade clause in the deal, according to the Philadelphia Daily News' David Murphy, who reports that if the Phillies trade him before Nov. 1, 2010, they'll have to pay a $1 million kicker.
The deal eats up the final three years of arbitration eligibility for Howard, who will be a free agent after the 2011 season. For the Phillies, it earns the team a certain degree of cost certainty in a year in which their payroll has ballooned to $130 million.
If the sides hadn't come to an agreement, an arbitration hearing was set for next week. The Phillies had sought to pay Howard $14 million in 2009, with Howard seeking $18 million, equal to the average annual value of his new deal.
Perhaps most importantly, it keeps both Howard and the Phillies relatively happy, avoiding what was sure to be a contentious arbitration hearing. Now Howard can get back to working toward a fourth-straight year leading the majors in RBI and home runs, and the Phillies can get back to solving their remaining roster holes with only a week before pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
What do folks think? Is this deal way too big for Howard, or are the Phillies locking him in for cheap?
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