Phillies Nation let out a collective cheer on Monday, as word spread of the contract extension of their superstar first-baseman, Ryan Howard. The Philadelphia Phillies signed first baseman Ryan Howard to a 5-year contract extension worth about $125 million. Howard, who has been selected to the All-Star team twice, was a major part of a Phillies team that has gone to two straight World Series. The Phillies won the world championship in 2008 defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in five games.
Keeping a Strong Nucleus of Players
A 2006 MVP, Howard avoided arbitration in 2009 by signing a three year deal worth $54 million deal. The new deal signed on Monday, coupled with several others made by the Phillies (including the signing of Pitcher Roy Halladay), has established a strong nucleus of high-caliber players that the Phillies can build upon for years to come. Over the last year, the Phillies have locked up Howard, Halladay, pitcher Cole Hamels, and second baseman Chase Utley for the next several years. Next up, the Phillies will be focusing on re-signing right fielder Jayson Werth, who becomes a free agent after this season. Howard’s extension is worth $25 million in guaranteed average salary and makes him one of the highest paid players in all of baseball.
The deal will begin in 201l, when Howard would have been a free agent, guaranteeing that the 30-year-old will be with the Philadelphia Phillies until at least 2016. If the Phillies chose to exercise the club option in 2017, the deal would be worth $138 million.
A Sign of Confidence
The Phillies slugger has consistently performed well with the bat, hitting .279 with 45 homers and 141 RBIs last season and serving up three homers and 16 RBIs in 80 at-bats so far in the month of April. In the last four seasons, Howard has elite numbers with an average of 49 homers and 143 RBIs. Despite those statistics, there have been some concerns among the Phillies top brass, as Howard has also averaged 191 strike outs over the same period of time. Howard responded by working extra hard in the last few off seasons, leading to a renewed confidence in his ability to perform at a high level well into his career. The new deal, which also contains a limited no-trade clause, rewards Howard’s consistent defensive improvement, better conditioning, and heightened athleticism. When the deal ends in 2016, Howard will be 36.
Howard, who is fifth on the Phillies’ all-time home run list, will become the highest paid first baseman in major league baseball. This deal also means that Howard will become the highest paid player in Phillies history, making Howard, a very rich and happy man.