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Is it time for the Phillies to release Ryan Howard?

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In his 10 Degrees column published yesterday on Yahoo Sports, Jeff Passan discusses Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard‘s contract and his continued struggles this season. Howard inked a five-year, $125 million extension with the Phillies back in 2010. Due to injuries, age, and the league figuring him out, Howard has been worth -3.9 Wins Above Replacement since the contract began in 2012.

Passan wonders if it’s time for the Phillies to release Howard, who has struggled all year to the tune of a .161/.233/.381 triple-slash line in 133 plate appearances. Howard, who can also neither run nor field adequately, is the second-least valuable first baseman in baseball (-0.7 WAR) behind the Mariners’ Adam Lind (-0.8), according to FanGraphs.

The Phillies recently promoted Tommy Joseph, a former catching prospect whose career progress had been paused due to concussion issues. He has hit well enough in 17 plate appearances since his promotion, racking up three singles and a homer. The 24-year-old offers more upside than Howard does for the surprisingly-contending Phillies.

Owed $25 million for this season plus a $10 million buyout for 2017, no team is going to want to acquire an ineffective Howard even if the Phillies cover all of his salary. Even if he were to get hot ahead of the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline or the August 31 waiver deadline, the Phillies won’t get anything of significance in return — maybe a mop-up type of reliever or a Quad-A type of hitter.

It would certainly behoove the Phillies to simply release Howard just to clear up the roster space. Howard is still a fan favorite but no one buys tickets anymore to watch him play nor are his jerseys flying off of the shelves at the store at Citizens Bank Park. Meanwhile, the Phillies are expecting utilityman Cody Asche to return possibly by the end of the month, and outfielder Aaron Altherr could be activated in July. Outfield prospect Nick Williams could earn a promotion to the majors at some point in the next two months as well. There just aren’t enough spots on the 25-man roster for the Phillies to carry an ineffective veteran who provides zero present value and zero future value.

Indians activate Francisco Lindor

Francisco Lindor
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The Indians activated shortstop Francisco Lindor in advance of their doubleheader against the Braves, the club announced Saturday. Veteran DH Hanley Ramírez has been designated for assignment in a subsequent roster move.

It’s a welcome change for the Indians, who lost Lindor to a right calf strain at the outset of spring training and saw his recovery timetable extended by a left ankle sprain during one of his rehab games. When healthy, however, the 25-year-old has been nothing short of spectacular. During his 2018 campaign, he received his third consecutive All-Star nomination and finished the season batting .277/.352/.519 with 38 home runs, 25 stolen bases, and a career-best 7.6 fWAR through 745 plate appearances.

Things haven’t gone nearly as well for Ramírez since he inked a minor-league deal with the club in late February. Although he managed to stay relatively injury-free during his first few weeks of the 2019 season, the 35-year-old infielder slashed an underwhelming .184/.298/.327 with three extra bases and eight RBI in 57 PA. Whether or not he’ll find another major-league gig this year remains to be seen.