Monday April 26th, 2010

On Monday, the Phillies announced a five-year, $125 million contract extension with All-Star first baseman Ryan Howard that includes a club option for a sixth season. Here are three quick thoughts on the deal.

1. Against the grain

The Phillies are bucking an industry trend by investing huge sums of money into players as they age through their 30s. In 2012, they will spend $55.2 million on three players: Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley -- that's more than the Athletics, Padres and Pirates will pay their entire teams this year. (Halladay will be 35, Howard 32 and Utley 33.) This contract unofficially places Philadelphia with the Yankees and Red Sox in the upper elite of teams, because they can afford to keep players off the market as they age.

2. A bold move

And the commitment to Howard at age 30 (the extension starts at age 32) also is a bold bet. It is the third-most amount of money guaranteed to a player at least 30 years old at the time of the contract. When you look at the list below, you will find poor returns on investment when it comes to massive amounts of money for players as they age through their 30s.

Most Guaranteed Money After Turning 30: 1. Alex Rodriguez, $275M (32 years old) 2. Alfonso Soriano, $136M (30) 3. Ryan Howard, $125M (30) 4. Jason Giambi, $120M (30) 5. Ken Griffey Jr., $116.5M (30) 6. Kevin Brown, $105M (32) Note: Matt Holliday missed the list by one month

3. Why this is good news for Pujols and Prince

Howard is the middle of a three-year, $54 million contract. Put this contract and his extension together and what do you get? Almost exactly what the Yankees gave Mark Teixeira, and Howard got there without the leverage of free agency. Compare:

What does it mean? Good news for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder (and to a lesser degree, Adrian Gonzalez), who are eligible for free agency after the 2011 season. Pujols will be 31, and is virtually guaranteed to be paid more than $25 million a year for eight years. Fielder has similar numbers to Howard -- but is four years younger.

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