There may be no remnants from the 2008 championship team on the Phillies this year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t elsewhere. Chase Utley recently signed back on with the Dodgers; Jimmy Rollins is hoping for a good spring after signing a minor league contract with the Giants; and even Carlos Ruiz will get some playing time after being traded to the Mariners from Los Angeles.
And then there’s Ryan.
Ryan Howard was the only player from the Phillies heyday who got a proper – and much deserved – sendoff, but it was clear he wasn’t ready to hang up his cleats. With spring training now underway, Howard is still a free agent with no rumored prospects in sight.
While his skill set is limited, Howard still hit 25 home runs in 362 plate appearances in 2016 and rebounded nicely after the all-star break, batting .262. One would think he would be able to produce a similar number as a designated hitter against right-handed pitching, especially if the team has someone better than Cameron Rupp hitting behind him.
One potential landing spot could be the Mariners, who are still trying to figure out whether to put Nelson Cruz back in the outfield or increase his time as a DH. Howard could give Seattle another option at both DH and first base, where they are currently planning on using a platoon of rookie lefty Daniel Vogelbach and righty Danny Valencia.
The White Sox, much like last year with Rollins, could bring in Howard on a minor league deal to compete for a DH spot. Right now they have right-hander Avisail Garcia, who has yet to hit more than 13 home runs in a season and struck out 115 times in 453 plate appearances last year. It’s safe to say a platoon of Howard/Garcia could help improve those numbers.
With spring training underway, players are bound to get injured, which could open up more options for Howard. If Albert Pujols misses time coming off of foot surgery this offseason, the Angels could be looking for a quick fix.
While a longshot, one NL team that could take a chance on Howard is the Atlanta Braves. The Braves seem to be unafraid to take on veteran players as shown by the additions of Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey and Brandon Phillips. Howard wouldn’t be much more than a bench player, but as time ticks down, he is running out of options.