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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 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?

By Cameron Smith  |  February 8, 2009; 2:35 PM ET
Categories:  Phillies  
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Seems like a good deal for Philly, and an only ok deal for Howard. If the Phillies don't sign this deal, and he wins his arbitration hearing, they're already on the hook for the same amount for 2009, but are certain to be on the hook for more in 2010, and a lot more in 2011. Even if they do win in arbitration, he could get more than 18 million next year, and a lot more in 2011.

Honestly, I'm not sure why Howard would take this deal, other than as an insurance policy against future injury or against a significant market downturn.

Posted by: wahoo2x | February 8, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Too big for Howard? Please. He was getting screwed by the CBA. It's about time the guy gets paid his due. Why do people root for the owners to get richer at the expense of the players you root for?

Posted by: sbiel2 | February 8, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I am one who thinks he has big holes even as a hitter but obviously in the field. But, there's no way around the fact that he's led the league in RBI and HR the last, what 3 years? You can't explain that away and so he has to command that kind of money.

I think it's a win-win. They both avoid the rest of arbitration, they both know what is coming for three years. It has to blow away the record for a multi-year deal for a guy in his 2nd year of arbitration.

Now we'll see if he can keep putting up the numbers, if he does, he'll be looking at a $200m+ deal in '11.

Posted by: Avar | February 8, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

It's a good deal in the at-bats when he hits the ball. But the thing about Ryan Howard is what he shares with former Phillies first baseman John Kruk.

Multiple K's.

Posted by: greggwiggins | February 8, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Avar: "Now we'll see if he can keep putting up the numbers, if he does, he'll be looking at a $200m+ deal in '11."

Are you crazy? The guy will be 32 in 2011. There's no way he'll get a $200+ million deal then, especially if owners continue the trend of this season.

A 32 year old slugger with power as his only asset (like Howard is), tends to drop off quickly, and Howard will likely be looking at a 4-5 year deal, MAX, at 32. That will make him a lot of money, probably over $100+ million assuming he continues his production, but no way he gets 200.

Then again, there's always the Rangers. Maybe they can throw an 8 year, 200 million contract at a 32 year old, they seem to like wasting money in the past.

Posted by: adampschroeder | February 8, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

did a quick and dirty calculation of their payroll off the Cots page and came to about $125 million for 2009, or a 25+% increase from last year.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 8, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

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