As the Phillies have had to resort to benching Ryan Howard, the attention on Howard is stronger than ever before. The Phillies are faced with the reality that Howard cannot play as he once was able to in the past. Without a designated hitter in the National League, the Phillies have few options. Now some news comes that the Phillies are "trying hard" to unload Howard.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says that the Phillies are trying to find a home for Howard, and are still willing to pay him:
Word from competing execs is that Philly would be willing to eat much or most of the $70 million remaining on his deal. On Wednesday, news leaked that the Phillies have considered whether just to cut Howard after the year. It's hard to see how that could help his trade value, which has to be severely limited as it is.
We know that the contract is excessive: two more years of $25 million after this year's $25 million (of which they've paid over half), and a $10 million buyout. It is a large contract, indeed. Does it mean that Howard has zero value? Well, Heyman says a couple major league executives think Howard is worth something:
...two GMs said they believed he should have a value of up to $5 million a year to an AL team looking for a DH, though those particular execs were not offering to take him, as they don't currently have the need.
If Howard was simply struggling a bit and the Phillies were winning, some occasional at bats for Darin Ruf would be the prescription. But, the Phillies are going nowhere, and if they do not find out what Ruf can do now, they may never know.
Trading Howard instead of cutting him would be a sign of respect; they surely are grateful for all Howard has done for the team. But to do that, they must first find a team willing to take him. Until then, Howard will see the bench much longer.