Wade went on to explain that while any player or agent can make that request, the team is under no obligation to grant the request. Until Howard has established six years of major league service and can be a free agent, there is no real concern for the Phillies to address. Howard was optioned to Scranton this past week and has two options left, meaning that he could be sent out in each of the next two seasons.
When the Phillies ended Howard's experiment of learning to play left field, it threw a road block back into Howard's path to the majors. With Jim Thome signed through the 2008 season and possibly through 2009 if he hits the marks necessary for his option to vest, there is a major obstacle in Howard's way.
If the Phillies were to seek a trade involving Howard, it likely wouldn't be now. Instead, they would probably wait until closer to the July 31st trading deadline, hoping to get better offers for Howard's services.
Howard had also requested a trade during the offseason, but backed off of the request as spring training neared. Howard has had little exposure to AAA and major league pitching and has just 33 days of major league service to his credit, meaning that he is still technically a rookie. Had Howard adapted better to learning to play left field, he may have made the club this spring, but his ability to play only at first base would have too severely limited how many at bats he would have gotten.