It looks like Ryan Howard isn’t done with baseball quite yet. The former first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies has signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves, one of the Phillies’ biggest rivals.
The Braves have signed Ryan Howard to a Minor League deal. He'll go to extended Spring Training and then likely join Triple-A Gwinnett
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) April 6, 2017
Until now, Howard had spent his entire career with the Phillies. He was drafted by them in 2001, made his debut in 2004, and signed a five-year, $125 million contract extension in 2010. That extension ran out at the end of 2016, and he became a free agent when the Phillies bought out his final contract option.
Over 13 seasons with the Phillies, Howard hit .258/.343/.515 with 382 home runs. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 2005, and just a year later won the MVP for his 58-homer season. In 2008 he helped the Phillies win the second World Series in franchise history, and their first in 28 years. Injuries slowed him down in 2012 and 2013, and after that he was never the same player. From 2014-2016, he hit .219/.286/.419 with 71 home runs.
Howard signing with the Braves may be a little difficult for Phillies fans to deal with. Howard’s decline was tough to watch, but he’s still loved by fans. It’s great that he’s found a new home and can continue to play baseball, but Phillies fans would probably rather he do it with a team that’s not one of their most hated division rivals.
If Howard makes it to the majors with the Braves this season, he’ll most likely play the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park at some point. And even though he’d be playing with the Braves, there’s no question that he’d get a hero’s welcome.
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