Arbitration

At What Point Is Too Much With Howard?

So we know Ryan Howard made $10 million last season after the biggest arbitration pay day in baseball history. And we know he’ll ask for more for 2009 – we’re thinking an opening request will be close to (or at) $18 million. Predictions also have the Phillies’ offer around $13 million. There won’t be a happy medium there. It’s very possible Howard will win another arbitration round and make what he wants in 2009.

Then there’s 2010. And 2011. (Yes, he’s a Super-Two player.)

Gerry Fraley of Sporting News argues the Brewers – engrossed in their own potential arbitration battle with hulking Prince Fielder – should think about trading the first baseman during the 2009 offseason. Fielder is in his first season of arbitration, and most experts expect him to demand close to the $10M Howard won. He won’t get $10M, but he might very well get $8M. That sets Milwaukee for a similar quandary in 2009/10.

Back to Howard – if the Brewers should trade Fielder next offseason, under Fraley’s logic, Howard should be traded this offseason. I wrote back in April that exploring a trade would be a fine idea. Then I wrote in November that there’s no need to trade Howard – the world championship meant all urgency was out the window. Still, knowing Howard could possibly make something like $25M in his next to last arbitration year makes one incredibly afraid. Do we really want one man making one-fifth of the team’s payroll next season?

Other matters come into play, such as the Phillies financial philosophy. Hanging onto Howard and paying him large sums until arbitration ends would show the Phillies aren’t afraid to pay for high quality, the kind of thing we’ve seen scarcely in the past. But is Howard – a strikeout-prone hitter with a slumping average and poor fielding tendencies – worth hanging onto? Or, is Howard – an enormous run producer and continual threat in the lineup – worth trading away?

Is the question that may very well define the Ruben Amaro Jr. era.

44 Comments

44 Comments

  1. Monktavian

    January 19, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Howard is one of my favorites, but he is not a total package by any means. I would begin shopping him now. He may bat .236 next season with 42 hoers and 110 RBI’s and be in the same boat as Adam Dunn. Teams like the Yankees may be quite interested in paying his top-dollar demands. And he is the perfect designated hitter. I would look at the American League teams that have money, perhaps the Angels. We should get a lot in exchange for Howard but it needs to be young sure-fire talent. We could also throw Ryan Madson into the deal or trade him seperately for talent that we can hold onto for a while. When a single superstar makes more than two younger superstars combined, then it is time to shop.

  2. Tyler

    January 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Is anyone other than me psyched to hear the phils may be interested in ben sheets?? & what do you guys think itll take to get him… rite now i think like 2/14 with incentives but it keeps droppin every day

  3. Manny

    January 19, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Phillies Sign Madson To Three-Year Extension

    TOLD YA!!!!!!!!!!!!

    WOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Tyler

    January 19, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    where’d u hear that

  5. Tyler

    January 19, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    sick!!!!!!!!! i am psyched to see this!!!

  6. NJ

    January 19, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Wow don’t like giving 12/3 to a reliver but under the circumstances thats a great deal. Are those who were angry with Amaro still feeling that way, he has his priorities in order.

  7. Tyler

    January 19, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    i am still upset with some things but i do love to see he is doing some things rite

  8. Don M

    January 19, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    This gives us arguably the best late game bullpen in baseball… GREAT MOVE. I guess they are projecting the market and salaries to shrink even more next season, so they wanted to get the money while they could..

    I want to hear what is going on with Werth and Victorino soon!!!

  9. Tyler

    January 19, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    same don

  10. Don M

    January 19, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Outside of the RedSox (when does David Ortiz become a FA?) or the Angels.. I can’t see many teams interested in paying Howard what he wants to be a DH..

    I think the smartest play might be to ride him out through all of his arbitration years, and when he leaves you get draft picks for him… I’d much rather get close-prospects in return whenever he leaves, but you never make a deal just to do it.. unless its a salary-dump, not a trade.. ala Bobby Abreu.. Phillies are in a tough situation with Howard for the next few years

  11. Geoff

    January 19, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I like the Madson signing, thats clutch. As for Howard, I think if he asks for 18mm you say, you know what pal? Seya. And pull the trigger on whatever the best offer on the table is for Howard, and there have to be offers out there for him. there are times when i say “oh hell pay the guy,” but 18mm is too much for almost anyone in baseball. maybe cole hamels in his prime is worth that much, but certaintly NOT ryan howard. id explore the trading market as soon as possible for howard.

    im interested to see what type of deals werth and victorino get should they sign them both to extensions.

  12. Manny

    January 19, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    I also think that we should keep him throughout the remaining arbitration years. But the Phillies would be wise to make an offer higher than 13M for this year… If it’s between 13 and 18, he might just get the 18M. But if the Phils offer him 14-15M, then he could easily lose this arbitration.

  13. Geoff

    January 19, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    The Angels are interesting though..they have a big gaping hole at 1B/DH and they need offense more than the phillies need howard…so is there a match there maybe? what type of pitching prospects do they have? do they have a decent power-hitting prospect?

  14. Geoff

    January 19, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    the thing is…if you can move howard for some good prospects, adam dunn, a cheaper and almost as good version of howard is out there on the market still…not offered arbitration…AND with the power hitter prices going down you could snag dunn for 3/30 maybe and save whatever money howard was going to make on top of that…just a thought…

  15. Geoff

    January 19, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    and of course use that money towards signing people like werth vic or blanton to extensions..

  16. Don M

    January 19, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    They already pay too much Torii Hunter… Vladdy is awesome, but has started to slow down in the past few years, and they’ll need to replace him soon.

    Howie Kendrick is a great hitter, but not a ton of power.. And they are ‘Interested” every time a big bat becomes available.. Tex, Manny, etc..

    Mitch Williams said the Phillies lost to Howard last year because they were more unrealistic. If they would have offered $8 M, they probably would have won. Instead they had to give him $10 M. That is why you see so many cases get settled before the actual aarbitration process begins.. Teams and Players should both submit contract offers that they feel are reasonable.. and most times they come to an agreement somewhere in the middle

  17. Tyler

    January 19, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    is anybody interested in sheets’s dropping pricetag???

  18. Geoff

    January 19, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    i heard the phillies might be looking into sheets if his price drops a bit more..

  19. Tyler

    January 19, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    yea… i heard the same so im really hopin to see him come… wat u think it takes to sign him

  20. Geoff

    January 19, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    2-3 years 13-15m a pop roughly. maybe you can hide some of that in incentives though for games started so that he can earn up to 15m a year, but only X mm if he gets hurt and misses a lot of starts. add a vesting option in the deal maybe…

  21. Tyler

    January 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    wow… so u think hell get lowe money???!!… i think thats way overpaying especially after hamels only got 3/20.5 & he’s undoubtedly better

  22. From Section 113

    January 19, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Though I am not in love with their farm except with their #1 overall prospect, I really think the O’s could really use Howard as the center peice of their offense. With him, Markakis, Jones, Weiters, and Huff they would be looking real nice.

    The White Sox do have a ton of money coming off the books soon too. Contreras/Thome/Dotel all come off the books. IF they can move a Dye or Buehrle or Linebrink they can easily fit him in. I could see them setting up something big next yr.

    The Yanks do have Matsui and Damon ending in ’09. They have only 1 yr left of Mariano. COuld they make the move for Howard as their DH? Be kind of craz with Howard/Tex/Arod all on the same team. They could then move Jeter to CF. They’d still need an OF and a shortstop. Also the other big problem is Posada is bound to become the DH and he’s signed through 2011.

    Ranger/Marniers/Indians anyone? I can see him going to an NL team alot easier than an AL team but he would thrive as a DH because, well he is one.

  23. Mazinman

    January 19, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    I don’t think we should be in a great hurry to trade Howard at least for now. Our new GM has already pulled out some great arbitration signings including one that I thought would be impossible (Madson). If he surprised us with the impossible once why not see if he can do it again with Howard?

  24. Eb

    January 19, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I like the idea of sending howard to the AL. ALso Sheets would be a great pick up but I would shop Blanton if we get Sheets. That way HApp and Carascco have some room

  25. Tyler

    January 19, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    why would u shop blanton… if im not mistaken he didnt lose a single game for us last yr

  26. Richie

    January 19, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Howard is not going anywhere for atleast this year. Amaro would get crucified for dealing that much offense after winning a world series. We need to see if this team can repeat or get somewhere close. If not, he will be dealt at the next winter meetings given he doesnt put together a campaign similar to circa 2006.

  27. Ben

    January 19, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    My thing is that you can’t replace all the power in the lineup. Who cares about all the other stuff. I hope the Phillies suck it up and at least keep him through the arbitration years maybe trading him before the last year. Howard also has to keep hitting around 50 homers and 140 rbis to keep his arbitration numbers going up to crazy numbers. So if he continutes to get close to those run producing numbers he’s worth every penny. Taking arbitration at least means the Phillies can prove they’ll spend money, but the risk is less because its only year to year and they can trade him at any point.

  28. Richie Allen

    January 19, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    So far, Amaro is doing a great job……I dont know what he has in mind for Howard,but I’m really beginning to think that Gillick was a good mentor.
    I think Amaro will have the team in mind as he deals with Howard,so I’m not that concerned,yet.
    We have Howard for this year,but after that I think he’ll be gonzo,tradebait.The money will be beyond the point of his value to us.
    I wish this era of free agency (for the best players)=contract with the Yankees or Red sox would stop…Maybe its time for a true salary cap.

  29. Bruce

    January 19, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    If the Phillies had the foresight to sign Howard to a multi-year contract last year ($30M/3yr… using the awarded $10M as guide), they could have save a ton of money in arbitration for every year he’s eligible.

    It’still not too late to seriously negotiate with Howard on a multi-year contract before his price becomes much too exorbitant. With the loss of the righthanded power in Burrell, the Phillies can’t afford to lose Howard.

  30. Don M

    January 19, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    If the Phillies make an offer of $12 M they have a shot to win… Howard will probably ask $15 M… I seriously doubt that Howard (who wants $20+ M per season) would have signed that deal for $30M/3yrs

    If he has another good season this year, he’ll be around $10M, $12M, $15M… he knows it, his family knows it, and his agent(s) know it.. he’ll go year to year, make a fortune, and then sign a nice 3-4 year deal to be a DH when he becomes a Free Agent..

  31. Geoff

    January 19, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Bruce…Howard was offered Chase Utleys contract parameters and said that it was an insult…If this starts to get out of hand then theyll have to just move on. i am VERY interested to see what he asks for…

  32. Don M

    January 19, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    If its $12 M – $15M.. and they can’t settle….. I think the Phillies will win at $12M

  33. psujoe

    January 19, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    If we can have Howard one more year for 15 million then keep him and trade him next year. I love Youkilis, but I doubt the Sox would’ve parted with him in a package.

  34. Howard

    January 19, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Depending on how much more Mr. Howard is offered vs. what he think he’s valued as, maybe it’s time to cut our losses and see what we can get for him. However, I would definitely trade him to an American League team. He reminds me of Greg Luzinski at the plate. He’s either going to light it up or create gale force winds.

  35. Mike B.

    January 19, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I already thought $10 M was too much for a guy who doesn’t hit for average, but I know that won’t happen. So for argument’s sake, I’ll say $12 M – $14 M. Maybe Howard feels he’s owed all this money for the time he spent in the minor leagues and his meteoric rise in the majors – ROY in 2005, MVP in 2006. Or he feels that he should get more for having to put up with us “boorish Philly fans” and all that crap because they’d never treat him like that at home in St. Louis, blah, blah, blah. I’d pay him $18 M if he could at least keep his average respectable (.275), cut the Ks (150), and if he at least played respectable defense. But we all know that none of that will happen.

    And the A-Rod contract is ridiculous. The money is inflated, but A-Rod has a better skill set than Howard because he hits for average, power, can play SS and 3B, has speed, and plays defense (except for in October). Therefore he’ll get a bigger contract. Ryan Howard, don’t you dare even ask for an A-Rod-esque contract unless your second in steals behind J-Roll, win a gold glove, hit .300, and play second while Utley is out. Don’t you dare.

  36. Gavin

    January 19, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    He’s the face of the franchise, he’s shown he can carry the team, and he is the type of player we’d all be dying for if he were elsewhere. The Phillies should offer him 5 years, 110 million. I dont think he’d turn it down. I dont want to hear all the whining when he goes elsewhere and wins MVP’s for someone else. I know he drives you and me crazy with all the K’s and his huge slumps the last few years, but we need him in the lineup.

    Go ahead and fire away.

  37. IRONPIGPEN

    January 19, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Howard does strikeout alot. He doesn’t have the greatest average. He does hit shitloads of homeruns. And, if guys are on base, drive in shitloads of runs.

    His value is determined by the type of team you’re trying to build.

    I believe the Phillies should give him tons and nail him down for at least the prime years of his career.

    If the Phillies do not wish to give him tons, some other team will…

  38. Brooks

    January 19, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    Gavan, you are right on the money. Take Howard out of the present equation and what are the Phillies? Good team. With a healthy Ryan Howard, hopefully with a presentable (say .275 or more..) BA, this team is about to turn great. The possibility of having 3 MVP caliber players on the team at the same time, in the same infield and having a CY candidate – Think of it people, for years to come, this team could be at the golden grail again and again.

    5 year/110 seems steep but it would probably do the trick.

  39. Bruce

    January 19, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Don’t worry Gavin, you are in the majority with other fans in your assessment of Howard’s worth to the team.

  40. Evan

    January 20, 2009 at 9:49 am

    You can’t talk about getting rid of Howard the year after winning the World Series. Can the Phils win the division without him? If the Phils do win the NL East again can you justify not signing one of the biggest pieces of the offense?

    He wants too much money, but I can’t imagine letting Howard go. Its a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. We’ll see how it plays out, but the management is going to have to convince the city that Howard needs to go if they trade him. The only way the Phils get off easy is if Howard has an awful year, which could be worse for the franchise than signing or trading him.

  41. Spike Rogan

    January 20, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Let’s be real dude!

    While 25million is a ton compared to how cheap the Phillies are with the rest of their roster. (And the cities teams overall are cheap, ala keep McNabb. New QB that is better would cost more!)

    BUT the Phillies get 1,000% times more from Howard at 25 million than the Yankees do at the guys they paid top cash for this offseason.

    I mean CC got a fat contract for his past that he doubtfully will ever do again!

    Either we have a salary cap or we don’t. And it is the latter! So let’s not be cheap like the Eagles, lets have the best of the best! Not the lame of the rest!

    Prince is a train wreck and not going to last long in the NL having to play at first to bat.

    He’s a Mo Vaughn, Big Pappi at best!

    Howard may not be Kruck or Rose at first. But he can play well.

    Oh and BTW Utley will be worth a TON! He should make no less that 15 mill a season for what he brings!

  42. KM

    January 20, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    He already costs too much . . .

  43. From Section 113

    January 21, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Bruce totally disagree. Now knowing his arb. number, he’ll want 8-10 yrs $150-$180, no less.

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