The early verdict on Ryan Howard's five-year, $125MM contract extension isn't pretty from the point of view of several pundits, but the deal has to be great news for other slugging first basemen who may soon be hitting the free agent market. Here are some opinions on how Howard's contract will impact other major players…
- Fanhouse's Tom Krasovic spoke to John Boggs, who represents Adrian Gonzalez. Boggs feels that "[Howard's deal] bodes well for Adrian Gonzalez, because it validates the fact that he's worth that kind of money or more." Boggs noted that there have been no talks of an extension with the Padres, who have a $5.5MM club option on Gonzalez for the 2011 season that they're sure to exercise. Given Gonzalez's youth (he will be 29 when he hits free agency), great away splits (his lifetime line of .264/.365/.443 at PETCO Park is well below his .282/.364/.510 career line) and steadily improving glove (he has posted positive UZR/150 numbers over the last two years), he looks to be a strong bet to get a contract larger than Howard's from a team other than San Diego.
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at Howard's place in largest-contract history, and notes that Albert Pujols "figures to zoom by" the Phillies' slugger. Indeed, if the Cardinals had signed Pujols to a five-year, $125MM extension, they would be doing jumping jacks in St. Louis right now. The Cardinals have a no-brainer $16MM option on Pujols for 2011, and no matter if Pujols re-signs in St. Louis or goes elsewhere, he'll be looking at a contract with an average annual value of over $30MM. Braves manager Bobby Cox told Goold Pujols is worth $50MM a year in light of Howard's deal.
- Prince Fielder is eliglble for arbitration this winter and can also be a free agent after the 2011 season. We've already heard whispers about the size of the deal that Fielder is looking for, and he will be just 27 when he hits the free agent market. Fielder, however, has to deal with question marks about his long-term fitness and his fielding ability (a -6.2 career UZR/150), but agent Scott Boras will no doubt have his best counter-argument prepared to rebut those concerns. With Boras at the negotiating table, it's very unlikely the Brewers will get a hometown discount.
- Pablo Sandoval is under San Francisco's control through 2014, but Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News points out that Howard's extension is a "great lesson" to Sandoval that getting in better shape can lead to bigger money in the future.