Jul 22, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (6) before the start of a game against the San Francisco Giants Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports
Pirates trade rumors are swirling this week as the MLB trade deadline approaches. The Philadelphia Phillies have been shopping around Ryan Howard recently. The 34 year-old power-hitting first baseman has been struggling at the plate yet again this season and it seems that the Phillies have reached their breaking point with their fallen star.
The issue is, Howard is due more than 70 million dollars through the remainder of his contract (goes through 2016). That is a large sum for a bit over two seasons. It was reported by Jon Heyman on Thursday that the Phillies are willing to pay most of the 70 million dollars.
The Pirates need a first baseman, preferably a lefty with power. So, why not Howard? The Pirates could probably trade away a couple of mid-level prospects, say Andrew Lambo and Adrian Sampson? That is not a high-price to pay for a guy who is a three-time all-star.
Here is the problem with that, Howard has not been an all-star since 2010 and has not hit more than 15 home runs since he hit 33 in 2011. Howard is at the end of his career, he has suffered numerous injuries and has not been considered an elite first baseman in a few years.
Jul 8, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (6) reacts after striking out during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The Pirates should not trade for Howard.
No, not because giving up Andrew Lambo would end the world. Quite frankly I am starting to believe that I am the only one that is not penciling in Lambo as the future first baseman. His AAA numbers this season are good, but that does not translate to production at the major league level.
I am against the possibilty of a Howard trade because he offers little left in the tank. If the Pirates can get him for virtually no cost and a low-end prospect, which I have no reason to believe that they can, then sure, why not?
Howard is batting .224 with 60 RBIs and 15 home runs. His RBI total is impressive but his average with RISP is not, only .216. Howard may be good for about five home runs at most for the rest of season, and is anyone really confident that he will have enough left to produce in the playoffs, should the Pirates make it that far.
I again suggest that Scott Van Slyke would be the ideal man to solve the Pirates first base problems. He is affordable, young and hits a home run one in every 15 at bats.
Apparently the Pirates are losing interest in AJ Burnett in part because of his $12.5 million player option for 2015. The Pirates do not want to commit that much money to him nor do they probably equate him into the team’s plans for next season. Should he not announce intent to decline his player option, it is highly unlikely that the Pirates make the trade for him.
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