One month into the 2010 season, Ryan Howard and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to a controversial $US125 million extension to begin in 2012. At the time only Alex Rodriguez had ever signed a contract with a higher average annual value than Howard’s $US25 million.
At the time, Howard was coming off his second All-Star game appearance and his fourth straight year of finishing among the top-5 in the National League MVP voting. He was also worth 4.4 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) to the Phillies in 2009 alone. Based on what teams were paying free agents at the time, 4.4 WAR was worth about $US19.6 million according to Fangraphs.com.
However, the deal was worrisome at the time because Howard was 30 years old and had what many in baseball refer to as “old man skills.” That is, he hit a lot of home runs, but he also struck out a lot, did not run very well, and did not play good defence. Those players don’t tend to age well without the help of performance enhancing drugs.
Sure enough. Since 2009, Howard’s production has been worth a total of $US8.3 million (1.9 WAR) over five seasons, or about $US95.7 million less than the Phillies have paid him during that stretch.
The Phillies still owe Howard $US60 million over the next two seasons and recently he has been benched repeatedly by manager Ryne Sandberg.
Now there are reports that the Phillies have discussed just releasing Howard which would finally bring an end to one of the worst sports contracts in recent years.
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