In a strange off-season marked by mediocre players netting exorbitant multiyear deals, Phillies fans have been wondering what the team will do regarding the contract of reigning NL MVP Ryan Howard. Entering the third year of a contract that netted him a relatively paltry $355,000 last season, the Phillies first basemen isn’t eligible for salary arbitration until 2007, and won’t be a free agent until 2011, according to the Inquirer’s Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki.
Questions regarding the likely renegotiation of Howard’s contract increased yesterday when he fired his agent, which could indicate he's looking for a new deal sooner rather than later, but Howard wouldn’t comment to Zolecki on why, offering a great variation on "No comment":
Howard had hired Larry Reynolds - his second agent in 2 1/2 years - before the 2005 season. Now, like Jim Turner before him, Reynolds is out. Reached last night, the affable slugger took a line from Top Gun when asked to comment.
"Negative, Ghost Rider," he said.
The question remains: What should the Phillies do with the contract of a guy who was the NL Rookie of the Year, and then hit 58 HR and 148 RBI in his sophomore season? Should they lock him up along with arbitration-eligible Chase Utley with a pair of lucrative long-term deals, or should they play it conservatively given the team’s past history with dishing out such contracts when they weren’t actually necessary to retain a key free agent?
I know what I’d like to see… I just hope Howard doesn’t sign on with Scott Boras…