That's how Ryan Howard, the Phillies and many others around baseball are thinking as the signing of Mark Teixeira will ripple through baseball. Last Winter, Howard got a $10 million deal in arbitration with the Phillies and he's scheduled to head back to arbitration again to determine his contract for 2009, unless he and the Phillies can get something done on their own between now and then. So, just where would the numbers start?
To begin with, let's start with a comparison of the two players numbers.
Teixeira has played six full seasons in the majors, while Howard has played in all or part of five major league seasons. It's interesting to note, that Howard is actually a little older than Teixeira, having been born a week shy of five months earlier than Teixeira. To help even things out, let's take a look at the numbers, based on what each player does per 162 games played in their career. That would give these stats comparisons.
Howard can rightfully argue that he averages more home runs, RBI and walks per 162 games, posts a higher slugging percentage, a higher on-base-plus-slugging and compares favorably in runs, hits and on-base percentage. The Phillies can only argue that Howard hits for a lower average, collects less doubles and strikes out more. Not much for them to stand on. Their better argument will be the simple fact that Howard has less service time than does Teixeira, which is a main sticking point in arbitration. All that does for the Phillies is guarantees that Howard won't see the same annual salary through arbitration that Teixeira got through free agency, which nobody really expected.
The Yankees have Teixeira locked in at $20 million for 2009 and 2010 before his salary escalates from 2011 through 2016 to $22.5 million.
Howard can also point to the fact that he has won a Rookie of the Year Award and an MVP Award and finished second in MVP balloting in 2008, while Teixeira finished fifth in Rookie of the Year balloting in 2003 and has finished no higher than seventh in MVP voting. Last year, Howard won his arbitration case when he asked for $10 million against the Phillies offer of $7 million. That award came off of a comparison between Howard and the Cardinals Albert Pujols, who was due to make $16 million in 2008 and is set to earn the same amount in 2009.
This Winter, Howard can argue against Teixeira's new contract and use his comparison in numbers to him as being the standard for first basemen. The Phillies will likely point to the fact that Howard finished second to Pujols in MVP voting and look to use his contract as a comparison again, arguing that Howard doesn't deserve to be at the $16 million plateau. With that in mind, the Phillies will likely offer something in the neighborhood of $13 or $14 million for 2009, while Howard will try to squeeze out something around $16 or $17 million.
If the Phillies want to look long-term, you have to think they would have to start the bidding on Howard at four years and somewhere in the neighborhood of $75 million to buy out one year of Howard's free agency. If the Phillies don't sign Howard to a long-term deal and he continues to hit at the pace that he has over his career, his numbers will greatly eclipse Mark Teixeira's when Howard is eligible for free agency following the 2011 season. The following is a look at Teixeira's numbers when he hit free agency this year and what Howard's numbers could look like after the 2011 season.
Numbers at free agency
There is no way to gauge exactly what Howard's numbers will be three years down the road, just as there is no way to gauge where player salaries will be at that point. If all things stay equal though, Ryan Howard would well surpass the type of money that Teixeira received from the Yankees.