Well done, Rube: Howard's new contract is a great deal
As you may have heard by now, Ryan Howard and the Phillies have agreed to a contract extension that will keep the former MVP in red pinstripes until at least 2016 and for a guaranteed $125 million. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. announced the deal earlier today.
(Howard apparently only signs contract extensions when I'm on a plane, by the way. Weird. I guess I should be ready for 2018.)
When you read $125 million, you can't help but be blown away. Regular folks like you and I can't comprehend that kind of cash. It might as well be monopoly money.
But, in baseball terms, this is a great deal all around. Let's briefly countdown the ways...
1. Keeping the window open: All along the Phillies goal is to extend the current nucleus' window of opportunity of winning as long as they can. But besides Roy Halladay and Chase Utley, there aren't non-arbitration-eligible players locked up beyond 2012.
The Phils smartly chose to lock up the most productive run producer in their lineup and a guy who sells tickets like no one else on the team.
2. The length of the contract is right on: A five-year extension, which begins after the 2011 season, gets underway in the same month Howard turns 32-years-old. So the length of the deal doesn't seem to be bad at all for the Phillies - Howard will be 36-years-old in the last guaranteed year of the deal.
3. The money is fair to both parties: Somewhere along the line, a rumor began that Ryan Howard wanted A-Rod money (10 year, $275 million) and that was that. Well if Howard's current contract (3 years, $54 million) didn't debunk that, this one does. And the more appropriate Yankees star to compare Howard to is fellow 1B Mark Teixeira. Prior to the 2009 season, Teixeira, who is just five months younger than Howard, signed an 8-year, $180 million contract as a free agent (when teams were bidding for his services).
If Howard hit the open market after next year, he could demand similar. And with that free agent class also including Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez, the Yankees, Phillies, Cardinals, and Red Sox are projected to be among the teams primed to bid for one of those players' series.
Back to Teixeira: in the same five-year period Howard's contract kicks in, Teixeira is due to earn $112.5 million through 2016. Without factoring in the option year/buyout in 2017, Howard will earn $115 million in that same period. And, again, both are the same age.
4. Off the market: In locking up Howard, the Phils won't have to worry about entering the aforementioned free agent bidding war/sweepstakes during the winter of 2011-2012. Why is this a good thing (besides the obvious reasons)? Pujols could very well be too rich for the Cardinals' blood. If anyone is going to get A-Rod money, it's Pujols. The Red Sox and Yanks will gladly pay the man. But than that would leave the Cardinals needing a 1B... and who better than St. Louis native Ryan Howard to win back a fanbase that will undoubtedly be upset in losing Pujols?
OK, so that's a random "4 reasons." I'm sure I could make a top 5 list or even a top 10, but I'm jet-lagged. I just how to drop some knowledge out there while it was fresh on the plane-fried brain.