Ryan Howard, Phillies sign a five year, $125 million contract extension

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Howard skinny.JPGUPDATEDone deal. 5 years, $125 million. It kicks in starting in 2012.  This seems like a really bad, really unnecessary move for the Phillies. More later on this, of course.

2:20 P.M.: Part of what we do here is pass along rumors. When it’s one that I’m really dubious about, I make extra sure to put the little “Rumor:” disclaimer in the headline just so you don’t think I’m trafficking in complete and utter nonsense with the intent to mislead. I try to keep my trafficking in complete and utter nonsense is totally above-board.

With that disclaimer out of the way, Jim Salisbury of CSN-Philly is reporting that the Phillies are poised to sign Ryan Howard to a five-year extension.

This makes little sense to me as Howard is signed through 2011, when he’s going to make $20 million. Howard has admirably transformed himself from a big ol’ slugger to a smaller, more athletic slugger who is no longer a horror show at first base, but he’s still a big guy on the wrong side of 30 who could very easily fall off a cliff before he’s 35 as so many sluggers who fit his profile do. It would be puzzling at best for the Phillies to make a five year commitment to that type of player, especially when they have more pressing contractual issues such as Jayson Werth.

I don’t have enough experience going through Jim Salisbury’s rumor history to know if it’s reliable or not. I’ll note that he was out front of the Roy Halladay-to-Philly rumors last fall, and he was the first to report that the Phillies were talking to Shane Victorino about a contract extension. Still, this one seems far-fetched to me.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.