The Phillies are not expected to trade first baseman Ryan Howard before the end of the season, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. Instead, Howard will finish out the year in Philadelphia, at which point the Phillies will pay a $10MM buyout rather than exercise his $23MM 2017 option.
Zolecki notes that, at this point, the Phillies would likely rather keep Howard, a former franchise player, than trade him for a return that would almost certainly be nominal. As recently as last week, though, they seemed to have at least some hope of trading him, particularly since Howard has hit well recently.
“If I were a playoff team, I’d take notice” of Howard’s recent play, manager Pete Mackanin said last week. Howard has batted a remarkable .394/.444/.909 with five home runs in 36 August plate appearances and also had a .525 slugging percentage in July.
Any consideration of the slugger’s recent hitting, though, would have to be balanced by his performance in the previous several seasons. Howard has batted just .220/.287/.416 since the start of the 2014 season, a line that looks worse when one considers his lack of defensive value. He’s no longer a starting first baseman, either, having lost his regular gig to Tommy Joseph. Even leaving salary aside, then, Howard’s value on the trade market would be very limited.