St. Louis Cardinals do not need to trade for Ryan Howard
With Matt Adams out for the season, some have suggested the St. Louis Cardinals add an impact bat to fill the void – namely Ryan Howard, the former National League MVP.
Even with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs playing well in the month of June, Mike Matheny‘s St. Louis Cardinals still boast a lead in the NL Central of six games, the largest of any division leader in Major League Baseball.
The club has managed to accomplish this despite being hit repeatedly with major injuries.
First, it was ace Adam Wainwright who went down. Then it was first baseman Matt Adams, who provided most of the left-handed pop in the lineup. Soon after, both Lance Lynn and Matt Holliday were sidelined, as well.
While Lynn and Holliday are both expected back this season, Wainwright and Adams are not. The latter seems to be the bigger concern to most Cardinals fans, and some are calling for GM Jon Mozeliak to make a move ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.
The most popular fan-created deal features Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who was once one of the most dominant left-handed hitters in all of baseball.
While it sounds enticing when you think of the power he still offers, even in his mid-30s, simply put, adding Howard would be a major mistake.
If it were 10 years ago, that move would make a lot more sense. From 2006 to 2009, Howard clubbed 198 home runs and drove in almost 600 runs while posting a .278/.379/.589 slash line and 145 OPS+.
However, since then (2010-2015), he’s managed just 125 homers while seeing his batting line fall dramatically to .247/.324/.455 during that stretch.
He hasn’t hit 30 home runs in a season since 2011, when he smacked 33 long-balls and last season, he hit a low-point, striking out 190 times while batting just .223.
That’s not to say there’s nothing left in his bat. Not at all.
Last year, despite his poor showing average-wise, Howard still hit 23 homers and drove in 95 runs – a far cry from being a weight offensively.
It’s not so much what he brings to the table that makes this deal a bad decision waiting to happen for Mozeliak, but the cost.
Howard is owed $25 million per season in both 2015 and 2016 and he has a $23 million team option for 2017 that comes with a $10 million buyout.
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That’s a lot of money for a guy who’ll temporarily fill a void for St. Louis until Adams comes back next season.
No doubt, the Phillies would be expected to eat a major portion of the money owed to the St. Louis-area native, but even with that in mind, there’s no reason for Mozeliak to panic and make an impulse move like adding Howard.
None of this even takes into account the work that Mark Reynolds has done for the Cardinals in his first season in St. Louis. He’s come up with several clutch base-hits, adding five homers and 24 RBI while bouncing back to post a .251/.321/.400 slash-line.
Not to mention that he makes just $2 million in 2015 and that, although he’s far from a Gold Glove defender, he’s probably a better option at first than Howard.
All season long, the St. Louis Cardinals have shown an ability to adapt and play as a cohesive unit. Now is not the time to deal assets just to avoid a problem that hasn’t even presented itself.