Howard’s deal won’t affect Pujols’ or Fielder’s

Albert Pujols' next contract will not be affected by Ryan Howard's big pay day.
Albert Pujols’ next contract will not be affected by Ryan Howard’s big pay day.

One of the biggest flaws in baseball’s economic system is that some contracts affect others. When a big deal gets done, it can have a domino effect. Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million extension is an example of why they shouldn’t.

Immediately after Howard re-upped, the media began to speculate about how his deal would affect Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder and Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, both of whom are eligible for free agency after the 2011 season. That kind of speculation should anger players and teams. Howard isn’t Fielder, Fielder isn’t Howard, and nobody is Pujols.

Why Howard’s deal won’t serve as the floor in Fielder’s or Pujols’ extension negotiations:

Fielder: Because of different revenue situations, Milwaukee money doesn’t equally convert to Philadelphia money. The Brewers can’t — and shouldn’t — pay Fielder as much as the Phillies can pay Howard, and that will be an obstacle in negotiations. Fielder and Howard both play first base, hit cleanup and are the most feared hitters in their respective lineups. But Fielder doesn’t have a World Series ring or an MVP award. If it gave Fielder a Howard-like deal, Milwaukee wouldn’t be able to afford to put quality players around him. And, really, who cares how much money you make if you can’t win?

Pujols: The idea that Howard’s deal will affect Pujols’ next contract is even crazier than thinking that it will affect Fielder’s. Pujols has no peer. What the Cardinals must ask themselves: Is Pujols the best player/person in baseball? Is he an ambassador for the game? Does he project what we try to teach our young players about how to play the game? Does he affect our financial bottom line? Is he durable and consistent? Would every other team in baseball pursue him if they could afford him? Did we save money on his current deal (seven years, $100 million)? The answer to all of those questions is yes. So, St. Louis should give Pujols whatever he wants, never once worrying about Howard’s price.

As for Howard, he could have made more money if he had waited until he reached free agency to sign a deal, but his new contract is guaranteed. Similarly, the Phillies didn’t have an urgent need to hammer out a deal, and they took a risk by signing Howard through his age-36 season. It basically is an unmovable contract, so, for better or worse, Howard isn’t going anywhere. Because he is comfortable in Philadelphia, that’s probably fine with Howard — and the team. The Phillies recognized that Howard is exactly what they wanted at this particular time, and they swallowed hard and signed him.

Todd Jones, a former major league closer, is a regular contributor to Sporting News.

Albert Pujols' next contract will not be affected by Ryan Howard's big pay day.
Albert Pujols’ next contract will not be affected by Ryan Howard’s big pay day.

One of the biggest flaws in baseball’s economic system is that some contracts affect others. When a big deal gets done, it can have a domino effect. Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million extension is an example of why they shouldn’t.

Immediately after Howard re-upped, the media began to speculate about how his deal would affect Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder and Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, both of whom are eligible for free agency after the 2011 season. That kind of speculation should anger players and teams. Howard isn’t Fielder, Fielder isn’t Howard, and nobody is Pujols.

Why Howard’s deal won’t serve as the floor in Fielder’s or Pujols’ extension negotiations:

Fielder: Because of different revenue situations, Milwaukee money doesn’t equally convert to Philadelphia money. The Brewers can’t — and shouldn’t — pay Fielder as much as the Phillies can pay Howard, and that will be an obstacle in negotiations. Fielder and Howard both play first base, hit cleanup and are the most feared hitters in their respective lineups. But Fielder doesn’t have a World Series ring or an MVP award. If it gave Fielder a Howard-like deal, Milwaukee wouldn’t be able to afford to put quality players around him. And, really, who cares how much money you make if you can’t win?

Pujols: The idea that Howard’s deal will affect Pujols’ next contract is even crazier than thinking that it will affect Fielder’s. Pujols has no peer. What the Cardinals must ask themselves: Is Pujols the best player/person in baseball? Is he an ambassador for the game? Does he project what we try to teach our young players about how to play the game? Does he affect our financial bottom line? Is he durable and consistent? Would every other team in baseball pursue him if they could afford him? Did we save money on his current deal (seven years, $100 million)? The answer to all of those questions is yes. So, St. Louis should give Pujols whatever he wants, never once worrying about Howard’s price.

As for Howard, he could have made more money if he had waited until he reached free agency to sign a deal, but his new contract is guaranteed. Similarly, the Phillies didn’t have an urgent need to hammer out a deal, and they took a risk by signing Howard through his age-36 season. It basically is an unmovable contract, so, for better or worse, Howard isn’t going anywhere. Because he is comfortable in Philadelphia, that’s probably fine with Howard — and the team. The Phillies recognized that Howard is exactly what they wanted at this particular time, and they swallowed hard and signed him.

Todd Jones, a former major league closer, is a regular contributor to Sporting News.

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