Howard connects on $54M contract

The Baltimore Sun

Ryan Howard just wanted to concentrate on baseball this spring. No squabbles over his contract. No daily questions about his future.

The big slugger got his wish - and a hefty raise, too.

Howard and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to a three-year, $54 million contract yesterday, avoiding a potentially contentious arbitration hearing.

The 2006 National League Most Valuable Player will earn $15 million this season, $19 million next year and $20 million in 2011.

"The things that have happened prior with Ryan, it was really nothing adversarial, although I know with some people it was depicted that way," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We just agreed to disagree. It didn't make us love Ryan any less, and it didn't make Ryan love us any less."

Howard led the major leagues with 48 homers and 146 RBIs last season while helping the Phillies win their first World Series title since 1980. He batted just .251, struck out 199 times and made 19 errors at first base but also was runner-up to Albert Pujols for MVP.

"I'm happy to have this done and to know that I'll be in Philadelphia for at least another three years," Howard said in a statement.

Howard, 29, has less than four years of service time in the majors, so he wasn't eligible for free agency until after the 2011 season. Now the two sides won't have to worry about any more arbitration hearings.

Howard asked for $18 million in arbitration, the third-highest figure submitted since the process began in 1974. Philadelphia offered him $14 million, a raise of $4 million. A hearing was scheduled for this week.

Rangers: : Texas will sign former Dodgers outfielder Andruw Jones to a minor league contract that will pay him $500,000 if he makes the major league roster and offers up to an additional $1 million in incentives, several media outlets reported. Jones reportedly turned down an offer from the Yankees. A five-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner, he agreed to be released last month by the Dodgers after hitting .158 last season. Jones agreed to defer about $16 million of the remaining $21.1 million he is owed from a two-year, $36.2 million contract with the Dodgers.

Braves: : Two-time Cy Young Award winner Tom Glavine has been offered a one-year contract that ranges from $1 million to slightly less than $2 million, according to media reports. Glavine, 42, underwent elbow and shoulder surgery in August after going 2-4 with a 5.54 ERA. He is expected to be ready for Opening Day, marking his 23rd season.

Nationals: : Left-handed pitcher Scott Olsen, who was 8-11 with a 4.20 ERA for the Marlins last season, agreed to a one-year, $2.8 million contract, avoiding arbitration.

Royals: : Utility player Mark Teahen, who hit .255 with 31 doubles, agreed to a one-year, $3,575,000 contract and avoided salary arbitration.

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