The MLB offseason is upon us, and with it, the difficult task of attempting to make the Phillies into a ballclub with a clean slate or at least a chance to start putting the pieces in place. To do that, you need money and young players. The Phillies are a bit low on both of those things right now so, according to Buster Olney, the trade takes have begun.
Marlon Byrd is supposedly the most attractive trade target, according to Ken Rosenthal, while Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jimmy Rollins also likely to draw interest. But the Phillies’ biggest challenge will likely be moving Ryan Howard, something they are already trying to do, according to Olney. “The mantra on Howard appears to be: He is priced to move,” Olney says, while pointing out that he pretty much has to be, since the nearly 35-year-old Howard is “still owed $60 million, with $25 million salaries for each of the next two seasons, plus a $10 million buyout of a 2017 team option of $23 million.” The classic Ruben contract.
The Phils will undoubtedly face difficulty trying to move the Big Piece, since his owed money — like the Phillies — does not equate to his performance. Last year, Howard put in his first full season of work since 2011. And compared to 2011, when Howard was on the back-end of his prime and put in roughly the same number of at-bats as 2014, things have dipped. In 2014, he had:
- 16 fewer runs
- 12 fewer doubles
- 10 fewer home runs
- 21 fewer RBIs
- 18 more strikeouts
- an OPS of .690, (not) good for .145 point dip
The Phillies are going to need to set a low price on Howard, or he won’t be going anywhere. There aren’t many clubs willing to pay $25 million for a .380 slugging percentage and 190 strikeouts. Ruben will also need to take into account the fact that other managers and GMs will start comparing Howard’s production to other DHs — where his numbers do not hold up against his salary or the salaries of others — and with that, Howard’s return value seems to be dropping by the minute.