Ryan Howard’s season ended last year when he was getting out of the batter’s box, but this year it ended in the on-deck circle.
According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Howard will miss the rest of the season due to a broken big right toe. Howard suffered the injury Thursday when he dropped the lead pipe he uses as a warm-up bat in the on-deck circle on his foot. Seriously. The fracture was confirmed with an X-ray yesterday in Miami.
This is a fitting end to a disappointing season for Howard, who didn’t make his season debut until July 6 after Achilles tendon surgery. He ended up batting just .219/.295/.423 with 14 home runs, 56 RBI and a .718 OPS in 292 plate appearances, including an ugly .604 OPS and 45/5 K/BB ratio in 106 plate appearances against southpaws.
Chances are Howard will see some improvement with a full offseason to get back into shape, but he turns 33 in November and is still owed $20 million next season, $25 million from 2014-2016 and a $10 million buyout on his $23 million club option for 2017. This is one of those contracts where you keep looking back at it to see if it’s as bad as you originally thought. Yep, still bad.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.