Report: Phillies willing to pay teams $50 million to take Ryan Howard

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Ryan Howard has two years and $60 million left on his $125 million contract and Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com reports that the Phillies are willing to cover $50 million of that money if a team trades for him.

That sounds like a lot and it is, but it also means any team trading for Howard would still have to commit to paying $10 million for two seasons of a 35-year-old, poor defensive first baseman who slugged just .380 last season and has a combined .720 OPS during the past three seasons.

Howard has essentially been a replacement-level first baseman for a long time now, meaning teams can typically find his level of production–low batting average, decent power, .700 OPS–in lots of first basemen available for minor-league deals and waiver claims every year. Those guys cost $500,000 per season, not $5 million.

My guess it that if the Phillies are truly committed to moving Howard they’re going to need an injury to cause some team to get desperate or they’re going to need to essentially eat his entire contract while also requiring a low-level prospect in return.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.