Over the past few months, Troy Tulowitzki, Miguel Cabrera, Evan Longoria, Hanley Ramirez, and Ryan Braun have been locked up to long-term contracts. There appears to be no such deal in place for Phillies slugger Ryan Howard. Though the two teams have talked long-term over the past two off-seasons, they aren't particularly close on terms.
The difference, of course, is that Tulowitzki, Longoria, Ramirez, and Braun all signed before reaching arbitration. Cabrera went to arbitration once with the Marlins, taking home $7.4MM before being traded to the Tigers, where he signed a monstrous extension. However, there is no reason to believe that Howard will get similar treatment. The former MVP is three years Cabrera's senior.
While Howard's potential free agency pay day has been slightly hindered by his extended time in the minor leagues, he should still make out well before then. In his first year of arbitration eligibility, he took home a record $10MM. He'll face arbitration before each of the next three seasons before he reaches free agency after the 2011 season, at the age of 32.
He could rack up over $50MM prior to that, though (counting this year's bounty). And at 32, he might be able to land a decent sum, likely with an AL team to split time at first base and DH. Howard himself says it best: "I've always said it's something that you can't control. The only thing I can control is what I do on the field. If it ever happens, whenever it happens, it happens."
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