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Phillies reportedly willing to eat $50 million to trade Ryan Howard

ryan-howard

If the most recent reports regarding the increasingly uncertain future of Ryan Howard remaining a member of the Philadelphia Phillies organization is any indication, the team is willing to do just about anything to part ways with him, including eating an enormous amount of his contract to effectuate said parting.

Sports On Earth’s Anthony Castrovince reports that the Phillies would be amenable to paying a “significant” portion of Howard’s remaining contract to commiserate a trade. Castrovince estimates that the team is “willing to take on somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million.”

Howard is playing on a five-year, $125 million extension he signed with the Phillies in April 2010.  The current contract calls for Howard to make $25 million in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons. A club option for 2017 priced at $23 million features a $10 million buyout.

The first baseman’s productivity at the plate has been in relative decline, in one statistical category or another, since the 2012 season. After posting 33 home runs and 116 RBI in 2012, Howard hasn’t hit more than 23 homers or knocked in more than 95 RBI, both occurring during the 2014 season.

But those numbers are counteracted negatively by batting only .223, the second-lowest batting average of his career. Whether or not this slight career resurgence — along with the Phillies footing some of the bill — makes it worth it to a potential team remains to be seen.

The Phillies seemed to get the ball rolling regarding the ultimate jettisoning of Howard during the offseason, when general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made comments indicating the team would be better off without the aging first baseman.

“We’ve talked to Ryan,” Amaro said in an interview in December. “And I told him that in our situation it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him.”

Complicating matters for the Phillies, though, is that even if the team is willing to absorb a significant portion of Howard’s salary, is that his contract includes terms through which the ballplayer can block trades to 20 teams, meaning only nine teams, according to an ESPN report, presumably would be able to trade for him unless he was willing to waive the no-trade clause.

Where there’s a will there is a way, though, as the saying goes. Even if said way will cost the Phillies a whopping $50 million.

(photo credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens)