Ryan Howard, once a World Series champion, an MVP, and one of the most dangerous players in all of baseball, has now become nothing short of a disaster for the Philadelphia Phillies. Ever since Howard ruptured his achilles in the 2011 postseason, he has never been the same player. When the Phillies gave Howard a five-year extension worth $125 million back in 2010, many people around the game questioned it since they gave him a contract to that magnitude when the team should have realized their window was closing and it was time to get younger. Former Phillies’ General Manager Ruben Amaro should have approached the Howard situation the same way he did by moving three iconic Phillies in Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and Jimmy Rollins.
Howard’s nightmare season took another turn for the worst when manager Pete Mackanin decided to bench Howard in favor of Tommy Joseph for at least three games this past week. The Phillies have exceeded expectations thus far, currently sitting at 27-28 and six games out of first place in the division.
In 48 games, Howard, 36, is batting .152 with eight home runs, 19 RBIs, and an on-base percentage of .213. In the month of May, Howard had a .101 batting average, the worst among any qualifying hitter in a single month in Phillies’ history, mentioned by ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
Howard’s deal expires at the end of this season with a $23 million team option for 2017, which includes a $10 million buyout. It’s definitely a steep price, but Howard still could have value to a club, especially as a designated hitter. As bad as Howard has been, he can contribute to a team where he might be the difference in making that team contenders rather than pretenders. In the past two seasons, Howard hit 23 home runs and drove in 95 and 77 runs, respectively.
A change of scenery can also help Howard, as we have seen it with Utley with the Dodgers and Rollins with the Dodgers and now as the starting shortstop with the Chicago White Sox.
The Chicago White Sox are one team that should show interest in Howard. The White Sox sit in third place, and only a game and a half back in the American League Central. Also, if the White Sox can get the Phillies to eat a majority of the remaining money, which seems very realistic, it’s a deal to consider. The White Sox have already made a move to improve their rotation, as reports have said that there is an agreement in place for the team to acquire James Shields, someone who has underachieved and has significant money remaining on his deal.
For those who are ready to ride off Ryan Howard, he can still provide a left-handed power bat to the middle of a lineup without the team having to commit long-term, so it certainly seems to be worth the gamble.