Philadelphia Phillies’ slugger Ryan Howard has two years remaining on his current contract with the club, but the team had no interest in potentially losing him as a free agent. For that reason, the Phillies have worked out a hefty contract extension with Howard that will pay him an average $25 million a year for the next five years. The deal is the second richest in Major League baseball behind the New York Yankees’ shortstop Alex Rodriguez who pulls down a cool $27.5 million per season. The 30 year old Howard has played his entire career with the Phillies, leading the team to two consecutive World Series including a victory in 2008.
Howard spoke of his loyalty to the team as a primary reason that he accepted the deal without hesitation:
“That wasn’t a very hard decision.”
“I tell you what, it’s a great feeling to have that security and know where you’re going to be. I feel what I’ve been doing over the last couple of years, I feel pretty confident that down the road, I’ll be right where I want to be and still doing the same things.”
He then threw in a playful jab at the notoriously pugnacious Philadelphia fans:
“Hopefully there’s no riots taking place back in Philly.”
Even Philadelphia’s GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. was in a joking mood:
“As part of this deal, he has agreed to buy a second home for me.”
He then gave a more serious take on Howard’s extension:
“We just felt it was good timing for us. We felt No. 1, he’s one of the elite offensive players in the game. We could have waited another year and a half or so and dealt with it later on, but the fact of the matter is we decided he is that important to our organization and to our club and to our future.”
Howard’s agent Casey Close was also upbeat:
“This is a very good contract for him. The reason he felt the time was right was he loves his teammates, he loves the city. He wanted to be a part of something special for a long time to come.”
As was team manager Charlie Manuel:
“This is absolutely great. We signed Ryan Howard quite a few years ago and that means we’re keeping him. He’s one of our guys, he is a Phillie. It’s big for our team. That’s what you set out for. He’s very worthy of it. He is a great player and he is going to continue to be a great player for a while. Everything about it’s good.”
There is some risk involved for the ball club-despite a team option for the 2017 season they’re banking that Howard will remain a high level offensive player. The size of the contract, if nothing else, would make him almost impossible to trade should the team decide to go in a different direction. The Phillies have cooled off somewhat since a red hot start, but are still in first place in the National League East.
Ross Everett is a experienced freelance writer specializing in travel, poker and sports handicapping. He is a staff handicapper for Anatta Sports where he is responsible for providing daily sports picks. In his spare time he enjoys fine dining, fencing and deep sea diving. He lives in Las Vegas with four dogs and a pet coyote.