Former National League MVP, Ryan Howard has finally found a home. The veteran slugger signed a minor league
deal with the Braves and will most likely come off the bench as a pinch hitter if given an opportunity to participate in
the big leagues. I like this move for several reasons.
The Braves are in a low-risk high reward scenario. Howard smacked 25 homers in 2016 and 13 of those came after the All-Star break. The 37-year-old also gets to play in the NL East, a division he has spent his entire 13-year career in as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. Howard not only recognizes a lot of the pitchers currently on each NL East team, but a lot of those pitchers are mediocre and he could absolutely be a hero late in ball games.
By signing Howard, the Braves have a chance to add another power bat to their active 25-man roster which has been a need for them for a while now. In 2016, only one player on their roster hit more than 14 homers (Freddie Freeman with 34 HR). If Howard gets enough at-bats as a pinch hitter and as a guy that spells Freeman from time to time, then I expect him to create enough damage and reach approximately 15 home runs in the 2017 season.
With the Braves signing veterans such as R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon and Kurt Suzuki to small contracts, it only makes sense for them to cast a line in the direction of Howard’s camp. The 2006 home run derby winner only had 362 at-bats for the Phillies in 2016, but still showed signs of his former self. Howard’s presence alone would help players that don’t have much big league experience.
Sure this small contract could amount to little or zero production, but the big fella from St. Louis, Missouri is still a force that most pitchers hate to reckon with on a weekly basis.