Does Howard's win affect his long-term status with the Phillies?
In the wake of the Thursday morning announcement that Howard defeated the team at the arbitration table – he’ll earn $10 million, as opposed to the $7 million the team offered – it was only fair to ask the next question concerning the Phillies and their MVP, home-run hitting slugger.
Now that the value is set, will the team be able to lock down Howard to a long-term contract?
"That's not a discussion for today," Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said repeatedly. "This (decision) is too fresh in our mind to start dealing with that kind of stuff... we're going to go start playing baseball now."
But the team may have to deal with hard ball outside the white lines in continuing negotiations with Howard and his agent, Casey Close.
"The panel made a decision, and as far as his value is concerned, it’s now at $10 million," Amaro Jr. said. "It is what it is, and we’ll move forward from there."
Howard, who spent the previous day in a conference room in downtown St. Petersburg for the arbitration hearing, was unavailable for comment Thursday morning. When the announcement was made of his victory, he was already with his outside with his teammates, participating in the third day of full-squad workouts within the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater.
He's expected to meet the media when he returns from the field later today.
Howard's off-the-field victory has raised the bar for baseball salaries. His $10 million win broke just about every arbitration record in baseball history.
Before Howard, Alfonso Soriano held the mark for the most money awarded from an arbitration hearing when he collected $10 million despite losing his case in 2006. Among arbitration winners, Andruw Jones held the previous record by taking an $8.2 million victory in 2001.
Amaro Jr. confirmed that the team was still negotiating with their first baseman "all the way up the court house steps." But a compromise couldn't be reached.
"Any time you get into a room there's always a risk," Amaro Jr. said.
"As we always said, we try to continue to get deals done…unfortunately we couldn’t get anything done."
Howard also set a new mark for first-year, arbitration eligible players. Last year, Miguel Cabrera, now with Detroit, defeated the Florida Marlins in his arbitration case and earned $7.4 million.