The Philadelphia Phillies have put Ryan Howard on the trade block, and are willing to eat a portion of his remaining salary to be rid of the three years and $73 Million remaining on his contract. As one can imagine, such news has likely been met with the sound of phones being hung up the moment Howard’s name is brought up. “But wait, that third year is a team option with a $10 Million buyout!” one can picture hearing Ruben Amaro exclaim as yet another phone call goes silent. Needless to say, Howard is not exactly considered a hot player at this point in his career.
It is certainly understandable why that would be the case. Over his past three seasons, Howard has produced a .233/.309/.412 batting line with 48 home runs and 384 strikeouts in 304 games. Yes, Howard has had to deal with injury issues in that time, and he did hit 23 home runs over a full season last year. However, he also struck out 190 times and posted an OPS+ of only 93. Don’t let the home runs fool you – he just is not close to the Ryan Howard of four years ago.
Despite all evidence indicating that no one should be interested in bringing in that contract, there may actually be one team willing to take on Howard – the Kansas City Royals. Yes, the Royals, a small market team who ranked 19th last season in payroll, could have interest in taking on Ryan Howard and a portion of that contract.
That Balls Outta Here
In a vacuum, such a move could be understood. The Royals need a power hitter, and Ryan Howard can still do just that. Signing him as a designated hitter could allow Howard to remain healthy, which may well lead to a bounceback season. Yet, is it worth the potential $73 Million to find out? Even with the Phillies willing to eat a portion of the contract, bringing Howard in feels like a more expensive version of when the Royals signed Juan Gonzalez and Benito Santiago following the 2003 season.
Besides, if the Royals truly want to bring in a rather large designated hitter coming off a down season, why not bring back Billy Butler? Butler has been able to stay healthy, and is generally beloved in Kansas City. Not only would he be a better fit and a better public relations move, but Butler would also give the Royals a more payroll flexibility than Howard would. He also would appear to have a better chance of producing a true bounce back season, as opposed to the 35 year old (in one week) Howard.
The Royals may well have a decent amount of money to spend. That does not mean they should spend it on Ryan Howard.