I’m one of Ryan Howard’s biggest fans, and at times, apologists. But I’m not blind to see that Howard, who still has three-years and 75 million left on his deal (with an expensive buyout if the Phillies don’t want to make it four years), has become an anchor weighing down the Phillies payroll.
So as much as I love Howard, and cling onto the hope that he can stay healthy next year and hit 45 homeruns, I would jump at any chance to move him. I’m a Phillies fan first, and I know what is best for the team. It just doesn’t seem like any team would be willing to take on Howard’s contract, even if they didn’t have to compensate the Phillies. The idea of actually getting a return for Howard? Essentially fictional. If by some miracle some team took his contract, they wouldn’t be able to give up a top prospect or a major league ready player in addition.
I say all that, and I still believe it, but I report any big news with the Philadelphia Phillies. This afternoon on “The Ron and Ian Show” on 620 WDAE, the idea that the Phillies have had trade discussions with the Tampa Bay Rays for David Price, centered around one Ryan Howard, was brought up. Take a listen.
Once Ron said that it was “a friend from Philly” that was his source, I listened to the rest of the podcast knowing that it likely wasn’t a very reliable source reporting this. It isn’t like Danny Knobler or Buster Olney reported this with one of their sources, a Tampa Bay radio host reported this, and his source was “a friend from Philly”. So take this whole report with a grain of salt.
As for the idea of centering a deal around Ryan Howard to acquire David Price, sign me up. At least sign me up for the idea, because this feels like playing fantasy baseball. I’m not sure why, Ruben Amaro doesn’t grasp the concept of just building a rotation instead of having to have three 20 million dollar pitchers to top the rotation, but hypothetically, I like the idea. And I am having trouble taking this idea to a level any higher than a hypothetical level, because it seems so unlikely to happen to me.
If you want me to talk about how this deal would work if somehow it really happened, it doesn’t make sense for the Phillies. I’m sure the fanboys will blast me for saying that, like they did yesterday when I said that Jose Bautista wasn’t a better fit for the Phillies than Domonic Brown, but I truly believe that.
Would having David Price on top of the rotation to go with Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels be great? Yeah it would, but then how do you have money left to address the back end of your rotation, your outfield, your bullpen, and any other issues the Phillies have to address? You don’t.
If for some reason the Rays did take this trade, how would the Phillies even have enough money to make this work? Their isn’t a salary cap, but the Phillies seem to be up against it, at least until they get there new T.V. deal. So you are talking about taking, let’s say, three quarters of Howard’s salary per year if the Rays agreed to this deal. That means you are paying Howard 18.75 mil, and you still haven’t paid a cent to Price. Price is likely to get 13-15 million in his last year of arbitration next season, and after that you are talking about signing him to a deal of at least 130 million dollars. Does that really make sense for the Phillies?
My point is this. Without taking into account that the Rays would never seriously consider this deal when they can get a teams entire farm system for Price, we are looking at this the wrong way. If you were playing fantasy baseball and you have the guy from your office who doesn’t really know anything about sports but is just filling out your league, this trade might fly. But this is real life, this trade has zero chance of happening. And that might be a good thing.
Haven’t we learned from the first five (painful) seasons of Ruben Amaro’s general managing tenure that just making the big move doesn’t put you on a parade float? I laugh at this idea of trading for Price or trading for Scherzer, because those are the type of moves that teams that are one piece away from a title make. Are the Phillies really one piece away? They won 73 games last season, and 81 the year before. That doesn’t sound like a World Series team to me. They have injury concerns with Howard and Utley, the lack of a right-handed power hitter, not a single sure arm in the bullpen, an aging roster, and an incompetent general manager. I’m ever trouble believing Amaro can fix the rest of the team, especially if they add Price’s salary to the books.