Posted on August 20, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Even with the non-waiver trade deadline behind us, it’s still possible for teams to make trades prior to the end of August. Such trades usually involve high-salary players who will undoubtedly pass through waivers without being claimed. Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is a great example of a player who could be traded in August; however, reports indicate that the Phillies have no intention of trading Howard, allowing him to finish the season in Philadelphia.
Howard saw his playing time diminish earlier this season, as he had all kinds of struggles throughout May and June. But he has been swinging a hot bat as of late, hitting .394 with five home runs in the month of August, which could potentially make him an intriguing addition for a team looking for a part-time player with plenty of power.
“If he keeps hitting like he’s hitting, somebody’s going to want him,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “I’m happy for him. I like him. I never expected Howie to be my best friend while he was going through [the benching]. It’s not fun doing that kind of thing, but the bottom line is I pull for him. He’s a great guy. I’d like to see him succeed and go on and play as long as he wants to play. I’m hoping it works for him.”
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Yet, the Phillies don’t appear motivated to trade Howard. Philadelphia could surely save some money on the $25 million he’s making this season by trading him. However, saving some money and receiving a modest prospect in return may not be worthwhile from their perspective considering the value he holds as a mentor to younger players, not to mention the lifelong Philly can still sell tickets, something the Phillies may value being so far out of contention.
After the season, the Phillies are expected to buy out the final season of Howard’s contract for $10 million rather than paying him $23 million in salary next season. This means Howard is likely to go elsewhere after the season, most likely to the American League where he can serve as a DH, if he decides to continue playing.
Philadelphia catcher Cameron Rupp recently spoke about Howard, praising his perseverance and ability to bounce back after his benching and such a rough start to the season. “It’s the last year of his contract, and I’m sure there were many things going through his mind with the way he was treated here by the fans,” Rupp said. “But he handled it with nothing but professionalism and stayed with it. To see him bust out of it and kill it for the past month, it’s been fun to watch.”
In addition to knowing that he is likely to stay in Philadelphia the rest of the season, Howard got some good news on Friday when an MLB investigation cleared him of any wrongdoing after an Al-Jazeera documentary accused him of receiving shipments of performance-enhancing drugs. With that ordeal behind him and his bat heating up, Howard is now able to end his tenure with the Phillies in the manner he deserves as one of the best power hitters of his generation.