The Phillies have locked up Ryan Howard through the 2016 Major League Baseball season, signing the slugger to a five-year, $125 million deal on Monday.
Howard had two years remaining on his contract, but was looking to get a deal from Philadelphia prior to his contract expiring, not wanting to go into free agency.
The Phillies have rewarded the big left-hander, and then some, with a mega-contract keeping Howard with the defending National League Champions.
“I tell you what, it’s a great feeling to have that security and know where you’re going to be,” Howard said in an interview. “I feel what I’ve been doing over the last couple of years, I feel pretty confident that down the road, I’ll be right where I want to be and still doing the same things.”
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When his teammates learned of Howard’s new contract, they were not hesitant in joking with him.
“Where we going to eat, Ryan?” teammate Ben Francisco said.
“He’s going to take all your money,” remarked Shane Victorino.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr also joked.
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“As part of this deal, he has agreed to buy a second home for me,” Amaro said with a smile.
Amaro also stated that it was important to keep Howard in Philadelphia, as he has been a cornerstone to the recent success of the team, winning the 2008 World Series and the 2009 NL Pennant.
“We just felt it was good timing for us,” Amaro stated. “We felt No. 1, he’s one of the elite offensive players in the game. We could have waited another year and a half or so and dealt with it later on, but the fact of the matter is we decided he is that important to our organization and to our club and to our future.”
Howard’s $25 million annual average is second only to Yankee All-Star Alex Rodriguez, who brings in $27 million.
“This is a very good contract for him,” remarked Howard’s agent Casey Close. “The reason he felt the time was right was he loves his teammates, he loves the city. He wanted to be a part of something special for a long time to come.”
Howard batted .279, had 45 home runs and drove in 141 last season for Philadelphia. Over a four-year stretch, Howard has averaged 50 home runs and 143 RBI’s.
“This is absolutely great,” remarked Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “We signed Ryan Howard quite a few years ago and that means we’re keeping him. He’s one of our guys, he is a Phillie. It’s big for our team. That’s what you set out for. He’s very worthy of it. He is a great player and he is going to continue to be a great player for a while. Everything about it’s good.”
The Phillies have another All-Star on the roster who’s contract will soon be up, in Jayson Werth. Werth and the Phillies had begun discussions on a contract, but those stalled while Howard’s was finalized. Werth expressed his elation for Howard staying with the Phillies.
“This is all so fresh. I haven’t given it much thought yet,” Werth remarked. “I think it’s awesome. He definitely deserves it. Look at the type of seasons he’s put together and the player he is. He’s one of the premier players in the game. At the end of the day, I’ve got to go out there and hit. I’m happy for Ryan and the organization. It’s a good thing, a step in the right direction.”
Online Sportsbooks favor Philadelphia to repeat their National League title and play for the 2010 World Series championship.