Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Ryan Howard Contract

Yesterday, the Phillies announced that they reached a five year extension with Ryan Howard, worth $125 million.  Howard will be 31 by the time his current contract (which runs through 2011) expires and several analysts have been critical of this new contract.

I would argue that Howard falls behind Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins and is the third most valuable position player on his team, so is he worth the money?  If the Phils pay for past performance and reward Howard for his past contributions, I guess so, but this deal handcuffs the Phillies financially.  Sure, they are a bigger market team and probably have more resources than, say, the Pirates, but the Phillies will have to make some tough financial decisions in the near future that will be impacted by the Howard deal.  First, productive right fielder Jayson Werth is a free agent at the end of the year and will probably walk now that Howard signed a big deal.  Rollins and Brad Lidge are only under contract through 2011 (Rollins through 2010 with a club option that is sure to get picked up for 2011, Lidge with an option for 2012 that probably won't be).  Other players like Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels are only signed for the next few years.  Philadelphia won't be able to sign them all to long contracts.  Cliff Lee would have loved to be Philadelphia's number two starter, behind Roy Halladay, but the Phillies traded him to Seattle the same day they acquired Halladay.  Why couldn't the Phils use some of the money they spent on Howard to re-sign Lee, a free agent at the end of the year? 

With contract uncertainty for a good portion of the rest of their roster, you can't help but wonder if the Phillies just spent $125 million efficiently. 

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