CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (07/29)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Why ... (07/15)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Big ... (08/05)
Next Article >>
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (07/30)

July 29, 2014

Baseball Therapy

Trading Ryan Howard For Nothing and Winning

by Russell A. Carleton


Last week, I saw what I thought was an Onion headline. After all, The Onion has gotten so good at what they do, I now assume that anything in my Facebook feed is satirical. The story said that the Phillies were “working hard” to trade Ryan Howard. I don’t often use “LOL” when I type, because I don’t often laugh out loud.

LOL. Or, as we used to say when I was a kid, ROTFLOL.

Thanks to the massive contract extension he signed a few years ago, Howard is now owed somewhere near $70 million dollars over the next three and a half years. He is being paid $25 million this year (figure that roughly $8 million of that is still to be paid), plus salaries of $25 million in 2015 and 2016, followed by a $10 million dollar buyout in 2017 or a team option for $23 million. (Anyone? Anyone?) Howard is 34, a designated first baseman, has well-documented troubles hitting lefties, and, while he still has a little bit of power left, provides little to no other value. He is functioning below replacement level this year, primarily due to being a first baseman with an OPS south of .700. In other words he’s Lyle Overbay with an endorsement deal from Subway. Where exactly is the line for that package?

Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. denied that there were any Howard trade talks, but then denial is not just a river in Egypt. A few years ago, there was a trade idea floated between the Phillies and Cardinals involving Ryan Howard. The idea was that the Phillies would send Howard and some spare change for Albert Pujols, back when “Albert Pujols” was a code-word for “the best hitter in the game.” (Amaro denied that one too.) My, how the mighty have fallen. The idea of a Howard trade (present tense) made a lot more sense when it was paired with the rumor that the Phillies were exploring a trade in lieu of possibly releasing Howard at the end of the year (Amaro denied that too), and that Darin Ruf had been playing first base while Howard sat on the bench.

And then it occurred to me: Trading Ryan Howard might actually be a really smart move for the Phillies, even under the circumstances that would be required to actually trade Ryan Howard. I’m going to assume the Phillies would have to eat (fresh!) a huge chunk of Howard’s salary obligation and that in return they might be fortunate to get some non-prospect organizational guy who has no shot at the majors, but maybe grew up cheering for the Phillies and always wanted to say that he played in the Phillies organization (and as an added bonus, he could tell his grandkids that he was traded for a former MVP). I’d argue that the Phillies not only could win that trade, but that they almost certainly will.

Let’s look at the facts on the ground. The Phillies, as has been pointed out by countless others, are in need of a rebuild. They were ranked 25th in the Baseball Prospectus preseason farm system rankings, and by the time the help that is on the way gets to Philadelphia, the current core of Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Jonathan Papelbon will all be either eligible for social security or out of a contract. Trading some of those pieces away might bring back young blood. The Phillies need to take a sober look at themselves and ask whether Ryan Howard is going to be part of the next Phillies World Series team. Since that would have to be in the next two and a half years, I’m going to go with “no.” At this point, Howard is just taking up space on the roster. The Phillies can continue to carry him, they can release him, or they can trade him.

The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.

Not a subscriber?

Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.


Cancel anytime.


That's a 33% savings over the monthly price!


That's a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

15 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (07/29)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Why ... (07/15)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Big ... (08/05)
Next Article >>
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (07/30)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Kenta Maeda Will Not Be Appea...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Live That Fantasy
Premium Article Pitching Backward: Brandon McCarthy and the ...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Bringing the Band Back...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Padres Wish Upton a St...
Premium Article Raising Aces: Best and Worst Mechanics: NL W...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Catchin' Relief

MORE FROM JULY 29, 2014
Notes About Baseball: The Logistics of Human...
BBQ State of Mind
Premium Article What You Need to Know: July 29, 2014
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Monday, July 2...
Fantasy Article The Stash List: 15th Edition
Fantasy Article Deep Impact: Week 17
Daily League Strategy: Stacking Lefties

MORE BY RUSSELL A. CARLETON
2014-08-12 - Baseball Therapy: I Believe In Clutch Hittin...
2014-08-05 - Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Big Extension, Big Mistake...
2014-07-30 - BP Unfiltered: The Ultimate Showdown of Ulti...
2014-07-29 - Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Trading Ryan Howard For No...
2014-07-15 - Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Why Are We Playing Hunger ...
2014-07-08 - Premium Article Baseball Therapy: What is a Fast Runner Wort...
2014-07-04 - BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 4...
More...

MORE BASEBALL THERAPY
2014-08-19 - Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Becoming An Adult f/x
2014-08-12 - Baseball Therapy: I Believe In Clutch Hittin...
2014-08-05 - Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Big Extension, Big Mistake...
2014-07-29 - Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Trading Ryan Howard For No...
2014-07-15 - Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Why Are We Playing Hunger ...
2014-07-08 - Premium Article Baseball Therapy: What is a Fast Runner Wort...
2014-07-01 - Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Do Some Pitches Do More Da...
More...