Last season, Ryan Howard was awarded a record-tying $10 million salary through baseball's arbitration system. In return for that money, the Phillies received 162 games, 48 home runs, 146 RBI, and a second place finish in the MVP voting from the 28 year old. Oh, there is that little championship they won, too. Howard hit three home runs in five World Series games.
Tuesday, figures were exchanged, and Howard is most certainly going to see a raise. The Phillies offered Howard a one-year deal worth $14 million, but that's not enough for Howard. He is asking for $18 million this season.
Believe it or not, this is not the highest request of all-time in the arbitration process. Roger Clemens asked for a whopping $22 million back in 2005, but his deal was settled before the case went to a hearing. By the way, I'm shocked Clemens had to ego to believe he was worth that much, especially considering he only pitched every five days. You know, he seems like such a humble and unselfish person, but I digress from the topic at hand.
Howard has been quite the power presence for the Phillies over the last three years. He has averaged 51 home runs and 144 RBI per season during that time. Skeptics can point to his gargantuan strikeout totals and suspect defense, as well as the diminishing batting average and on-base percentage. Still, you can't deny the type of a dominant power source he is in the middle of the order. With this, he seemingly instills fear in the opposition. Those traits are hard to come by.
He'll be 29 this season, but still not eligible for free agency until after 2011. At this point, both sides seem pretty content to just keep re-upping through arbitration deals until that year. If the Phillies ever fall out of the race early, or Howard shows a drastic decline in production, don't be surprised to see them explore the trade market for the slugger. They really don't seem to be committed to a long-term deal.