The Philadelphia Phillies took another step toward preserving the longevity of their National League dominance today when they gave first basemen Ryan Howard a 5-year, $125 million dollar extension. Howard is already under team control through 2012, so the new deal keeps him in a Phillies uniform through 2016 with a team option for 2017. The average annual salary of $25 million makes the left-handed slugger the second highest paid player in baseball — behind Alex Rodriguez, of course.
By locking up the 2006 NL MVP for six or seven more seasons, the Phillies have put together a solid core of players for years to come. Roy Halladay — who has been dominating thus far in his first season in the NL — is under team control through 2013 with an option for 2014. All-star second baseman chase Utley is also signed through 2013. Howard and Utley alone give Philadelphia one of the most powerful infields in the game. The team also can keep Jimmy Rollins through next season by exercising his 2011 option.
Howard’s contract situation had gotten a bit shady lately as his arbitration number has skyrocketed with each passing season. There were even some rumblings earlier this season that the Phillies were entertaining trade offers, which were quickly squashed. I like this move a lot for Philadelphia. It may not attract as much attention as bringing in a free agent superstar would, but resigning your own players — especially when they’re a perennial MVP candidate who has helped you reach the world series the past two years — is always a smart move. The Phillies are taking all the right steps to remaining a dominant force atop the NL East for years to come.Google+