No more arbitration for Big Ryan:
Ryan Howard just wanted to concentrate on baseball this spring. No squabbles over his contract. No daily questions about his future.
The big slugger got his wish — and a hefty raise, too.
Howard and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to a $54 million, three-year contract on Sunday, avoiding a potentially contentious arbitration hearing.
The 2006 NL MVP will earn $15 million this season, $19 million next year and $20 million in 2011. He can increase the base salary by $1 million in each of the last two years if he wins the MVP award during the previous year. He can boost it by $500,000 if he finishes second.
There are two ways to look at this. The first way is to break out your best stat-fu and calculate just how much less valuable a player Howard truly is compared to say, Teixeira or Pujols, and conclude that the Phillies are overpaying him.
The second way to look at this is to conclude that, whatever the annual salary, Howard’s performance can’t be replicated by anything available on the open market, the arbitrators were going to bone you anyway, and hey, Howard is a popular player on the World Series Champs, so why not go a little large?
I suppose a compromise can be reached on the grounds of length — specifically, that it’s a darn good thing that this contract expires before Howard is too far into his 30s — thus mitigating much of the risk of decline he brings. Overpaid? Sure, but it’s better to overpay for three years rather than six.
If Howard declines like many suspect, the Phillies don’t get burned too badly, and Howard is still set for life. If he unexpectedly begins to age like fine wine, the Phillies would have gotten a good return on their investment and Howard sets himself up for another big payday.
So, as much as I hate the phrase, it’s pretty much win-win here.