Ryan Howard’s Dinosaur Of A New Contract (Updated)

* Updated 12:00 PM

Ryan Howard has just signed a contract extension which will  guarantee him $164 million over the next 7 years. First, Ryan will make $19 million this year and $20 million next year. Then the extension kicks in with the first two years at $20 million, the following three years at $25 million and a 6th year team option at $23M.  The 6th year has a buyout of $10 million.  This computes to an average annual salary of $25 million for his age 32 to 36 years.  With a limited no trade clause, Howard can punch his own ticket in Philadelphia for the next seven years.

* The richest deal ever handed out by the Phillies makes the 30-year-old Howard the second highest-paid player in the Major Leagues behind New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez, who averages just over $27 million per season.

Mets fans are experienced with these types of contracts, especially the later years when the player is not nearly worth his contract.  Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran are the two prime examples.  But Howard’s contract is so outrageously high amidst absolutely no competition for his services.  It reminds you of the Yankees bidding against themselves for A-Rod a few years back.

In any event, this certainly vaults the Phillies into the upper echelon of big market salaried teams.  In 2010 Phillies salaries will total $143 million, $17 million more than the Mets.  It appears that the Phillies are going to set their bar very high, probably to be second only to the Yankees in total team payroll for years to come.

What does this mean for the Mets?    Do we need to play this high stakes game in order to become competitive in the NL East again?  Or should we stay the course as the plan appears to be – which is to develop minor leaguers, conservatively add free agents and keep payroll to a budget and under control.

I truly hope the Mets do not try to play the Phillies game.  It is a high risk business plan that the Mets have failed at before.  Even Johan Santana’s contract is already a dinosaur.  I don’t believe that Johan, at his full salary has any trade value.  We love him and hope he stays healthy.  But I don’t believe there would be any takers.

Might Ryan Howard help the Phillies win the division several times over the next few years?  And possibly the World Series?  Absolutely yes.  But he’s absolutely not worth anything near $164 million.

Including this year, Ryan Howard is guaranteed to be on the Phillies for seven more years.  From day one of this contract he has no trade value.  An injury or a decline in skills will put a damper on their plan.  Figure Jayson Werth to enter free agency after this season.  Maybe an injury to a key player will kill their grand plan.  That is unless Phillies management wants to up the ante to $170 million or more per year.

This year my expectations for the Mets will remain low, not withstanding the nice little run the Mets are on now.  It’s so early in the season, who knows.  Regardless I hope the Mets do not do anything stupid.