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Could Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard end up with the Rays at some point this season? One MLB insider thinks the Rays have a good chance to land the slugger.

In his latest “Inside Baseball” column for CBSSports.com, Jon Heyman discusses Howard and lists eight possible landing spots now that he is hitting well again. The Rays come in at No. 2:

“[Howard] has built quite a home in nearby Clearwater, where the Phillies train, and he’d fit on a number of levels. They could use a veteran hitter, especially one with power, and were looking into Howard before landing John Jaso this winter. They’re not getting much production out of first base (.694 OPS), and starter James Loney is currently sidelined. They are also more attractive as a team in the AL East race, despite several defections and a puny payroll. Howard’s contract, though, is quite a bit high for Tampa Bay, even presuming Philly is willing to pay down much of it.”

Howard is hitting better as he is on pace to slug 31 home runs even if his average is still just .244 with a .284 OBP. His .332 wOBA does offer some hope that he can keep it up and may actually get a little better.

However, before we start placing orders for Ryan Howard jerseys there are two major stumbling blocks here and Heyman kinda skims over both.

The first is that the Rays already have lefty-swinging players at first base and at DH. While both James Loney and John Jaso are currently on the DL, there is the expectation that both will be back at some point and be fine and neither will cost the Rays any prospects or additional salary. Loney is also signed for 2016 and Howard’s contract does not expire until after the 2016 season (there is a 2017 team option).

The second is obviously money. Howard is owed a little more than $40 million for the remainder of this season and next.

There was a report that the Phillies were willing to eat about $50 million of the $60 million that remained at the time on Howard’s contract this past winter. However, that number always seemed a bit fishy and one general manager later told Heyman that the number was actually $35 million.

If the $35 million was correct at the time, that represented just 58.3% of the money left on the contract. A similar discount now would mean Howard’s new team would still have to pay ~$17.5 million for 1.5 seasons of an over-the-hill slugger.

Of course, what Howard’s new team must pay him is also dependent on what the new team is willing to offer the Phillies. The better the prospects, the more money the Phils will swallow. And let’s face it, the Rays are not in the business of trading away future talent for overpriced veterans.

Does this mean Howard won’t be at some point? No. But it is still highly unlikely.

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7 Comments

  1. Rob says:

    If history is a good measure of future behavior, they Rays will trade for him, spend way too much, and he will hit .220 with 9 homers the rest of the way, like all of the other DHs in decline they have signed.

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  2. Gus says:

    Pat Burrell thinks this is a great idea.

    Get him out of that bandbox and he's half the hitter he is/was there.

    Anything that requires the pay more than $7M would be way too much for him. Every well-paid ballplayer has "a house in Florida" -- it is a tax dodge.

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  3. Dave L says:

    Lets look at the history under Stu.

    The last time the Rays acquired an aging Philly slugger how did that work out? Plus he was a FA so he didnt cost anything asset wise.

    When have Stu's team EVER traded good prospects for a guy on the decline (or a guy thought to be in his 30+ prime?) Name the last 30+ hitter we acquired for legit prospects? Never.

    The Rays prospects are their only hope to compete going forward. So far the Rays have never eaten their seed corn and for that we all as fans should be thankful.

    Heyman is just navel gazing and getting a hundred more words to fill out a column.

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  4. Starmand says:

    I'm not particularly concerned about Howard's OBP.

    Shelty will take care of that.

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  5. Mr. Smith 1980 says:

    No thank you.

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  6. Dave L says:

    Hey Cork the M's have called up 25 yo Mike Montgomery the big lefty we got in the Shields trade who we then shipped out for 25 yo Erasmo who has already helped us.

    So Erasmo vs Montgomery careerwise will be part of Matt S legacy going forward. Same age same position. Ramirez just feels like a relief pitcher to me long term which could still be a good outcome for the Rays.

    Montgomery will start against us Tuesday for his MLB debut.

    Too bad Ramirez is set for the Wed start. Should be interesting

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    • Dave L says:

      Oh wrong AL west team! we are playing the Angels first. My bad

      Anyway maybe we get Monty on the last game of the subsequent M's series? U never know with debuts how long they last

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