A few years ago Ryan Howard was one of the most feared hitters in baseball, and now he’s on the verge of being out of the game altogether. On Wednesday a report surfaced claiming that the Philadelphia Phillies are considering paying the rest of Howard’s contract and releasing him after the season.
Howard is owed $25 million this season and a total of $60 million over the next two seasons, but he has been so bad over the past few years that he’s basically wasting a roster spot. Howard is a three-time All-Star, won the National League Rookie of the Year in 2005 and was the 2006 National League MVP. But since 2011 he has dealt with serious injury problems and has been awful when healthy.
In the past three seasons, Howard has played in just 248 of a possible 486 games. He has posted a .236 batting average, .306 on-base percentage and a woeful .724 OPS. In 914 at-bats he has struck out an incredible 312 times, and his WAR has been a ridiculously bad -0.8. The 34-year-old is clearly not the player he once was, and it has gotten so bad that he has even been benched on an awful team.
After a loss on Wednesday, the Phillies are 43-58 and given the age of their roster, they are not going to compete any time soon. They are in the process of trying to unload some of their bigger contracts, but there are absolutely no takers for Howard, and with good reason.
While Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon could actually be moved before next week’s trade deadline, Howard isn’t going anywhere. The Phillies are going to have to pay him anyway and they clearly have no use for him on the roster anymore. Releasing him and eating his massive contract will hurt, but it’s probably the right move for the future of the franchise.
No one should be shocked if this is Howard’s final season in Philadelphia.