Phillies give Howard 5-year, $125M extension
Ryan Howard preferred securing his future in Philadelphia to testing free agency in two years.
The slugging first baseman agreed to a $125 million, five-year contract extension Monday that could keep him with the Phillies until 2017.
The 30-year-old Howard will make $20 million a year in 2012 and 2013 and $25 million a year from 2014 to 2016.
The Phillies have a $23 million club option for 2017 with a $10 million buyout.
"This is a very good contract for him," said Howard's agent, Casey Close. "The reason he felt the time was right was he loves his teammates, he loves the city. He wanted to be a part of something special for a long time to come."
The two-time all-star led the Phillies to two straight trips to the World Series, winning a championship in 2008.
The $25 million guaranteed average salary in the extension will be baseball's second-highest behind Alex Rodriguez's $27.5 million average under a 10-year contract with the Yankees running through 2017.
One of the factors that might have influenced Howard in agreeing to the deal now is that he would have been eligible for free agency after the 2011 season, when he will be 32.
After being briefly stuck in the minors while Jim Thome manned first for the Phillies, Howard was the 2005 Rookie of the Year at 25, the same age A-Rod signed his first free-agent deal — $252 million with Texas in 2001.
Howard, the 2006 National League MVP, is earning $19 million this season as part of a $54 million, three-year deal that pays him $20 million in 2011.
He signed that deal in February 2009, avoiding a potentially contentious arbitration hearing.
Close said the sides began talking about a long-term deal during spring training, before the rumoured megatrade of Howard for St. Louis star Albert Pujols surfaced on the internet and was quickly quashed.
Howard hit .279 with 45 homers and 141 RBIs last season and has three homers and 16 RBIs in 80 at-bats this April.
While he has put up monster numbers, averaging 49.5 homers and 143 RBIs over the past four years, he has averaged 191 strikeouts over that span.
All-star right-fielder Jayson Werth was thrilled for Howard, but uncertain how this might affect his chances of staying put in Philly beyond this season. He has had preliminary discussions with the team about an extension, but said, "I think they've been busy with Ryan."
Werth is making $7 million this year, the final season of his $10 million, two-year contract.
"This is all so fresh," Werth said. "I haven't given it much thought yet. I think it's awesome. He definitely deserves it. Look at the type of seasons he's put together and the player he is. He's one of the premier players in the game.
"At the end of the day, I've got to go out there and hit. I'm happy for Ryan and the organization. It's a good thing, a step in the right direction."
Howard's deal could also influence Derek Jeter's next deal with the Yankees and Pujols' next contract with the Cardinals.
Jeter, who also is represented by Close, is in the final season of a $189-million, 10-year contract.
Pujols is making $16 million this year, and St. Louis has a $16-million option for 2011 with a $5 million buyout. Of the 2011 salary, $4 million would be deferred without interest.
Twins MVP catcher Joe Mauer signed a $184-million, eight-year extension this spring.
"It allowed us to see how the market was shaping up," Close said of the 28-year-old Mauer's deal.