Phillies Lock Up Ryan Howard With a Three Year Deal…

This is huge for the Philadelphia Phillies, and a move they had to make:

From ESPN: Ryan Howard has agreed to a $54 million, three-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies — avoiding a potentially contentious arbitration hearing.

Howard, the 2006 NL MVP, led the majors 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 Sunday.

Howard will earn $15 million this season, $19 million next year and $20 million in 2011. He can increase the base salary by $1 million in each of the last two years if he wins the MVP award during the previous year. He can boost it by $500,000 if he finishes second.

Howard is one of the pre-eminent sluggers in the game, and going into his fifth year, the Phillies were going to have to pay-up or risk losing the slugger in free agency. Although his batting average and strikeout levels do nothing for me, you cannot discount his power or the protection he gives a lineup.

Again, a great move by the Phillies.