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Ryan Howard would like you to know that he is not retired

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Ken Rosenthal of Fox catches up with Ryan Howard.

Howard, 37, is without a team at the moment but he has not retired. A state of affairs that many are confused about, it seems, as Howard tells Rosenthal:

Ryan Howard and his wife, Krystle, had something of a bet this offseason, a “friendly little thing,” as Ryan put it.

Fans would approach Ryan in Philadelphia and tell him, “Great career.” Krystle interpreted the remark as congratulations for his accomplishments with the Phillies. Ryan would tell her no, that after his farewell ceremony at Citizens Bank Park last September, fans thought he was retired.

So, Ryan said, every time a fan would say, “Great career,” he and Krystle would ask, “What do you mean?” trying to get clarity on the perception of where he stood.

Ryan — without being critical of the Phillies — believes that his on-field farewell at the end of last season at Citizens Bank Park made people think he was retiring, not merely that his career in red pinstripes was over. Sort of a lose-lose situation, I suppose. If the Phillies did not do anything it’d be said that they did not honor one of the most important players in franchise history. As it was, confusion was probably preferable.

But Howard still wants to play. And he’s realistic. He knows he’s a DH now, and probably knows he’s a platoon DH. He knows he’s not going to make a lot of money. He just wants a chance to play again and, to that end, has been “working out furiously.”

It’s hard to see where he might fit, however. It’s rare anymore for a team to have a full-time DH and even more rare for them to have a platoon DH who does not play any other positions. Even then, Howard’s platoon bonafides are not as great as some have portrayed. Rosenthal notes that he hit 24 homers against righties last year but glosses over the fact that he had a .269 OBP against them. Against lefties: .143. He can yank a longball on a mistake, but that’s about all he can do now.

I suspect he’ll get an invite to someone’s spring training and, if he has a good spring, might be able to break camp with someone. But it would shock me less if he doesn’t have a job by the time players report.

Yasiel Puig is still a free agent

Yasiel Puig
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Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.

There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.

The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.