In March of 2007, Ryan Howard had his contract renewed at $900K. He had no leverage to expect anything more than the $380K minimum, as he was not yet arbitration-eligible. When asked about the situation, here’s what Howard said:
"Go ask them," Howard blurted out in a raised voice. "They’re the ones with all the money."
At that time, it was known that Howard wanted a long-term deal exceeding Chase Utley’s seven years/$85MM and probably exceeding Albert Pujols‘ seven years/$100MM as well.
Scott Lauber checks in on this situation in today’s column. Howard is arb-eligible for the first time, and should jump up past $7MM. Pat Gillick seemed to suggest at the Winter Meetings that he expected to sign Howard long-term eventually rather than go year-to-year. Howard doesn’t reach free agency until after the 2011 season, at which point it may be wise to let him walk (he’ll be 31).