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.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.