UPDATE: Here is ESPN.com's report on the contract parameters:
Howard will earn $20 million in each of the 2012 and 2013 seasons and $25 million per season from 2014-16. The Phillies hold a club option for the 2017 season that is worth $23 million with a $10 million buyout.
Jim Salisbury of the CSN Philadeplhia posted on his Twitter page that the Phillies are nearing a five year extension worth 125 million dollars with first baseman Ryan Howard. The deal includes an option for sixth year which would bring the total salary to 138 million.
Howard has hit .279 in 750 career games with the Phillies, his best year coming in 2006 when he hit .313 with 58 home runs and a .425 on-base percentage. It is not a bad deal for the 30-year old, who will remain exclusively at first base, but it is interesting the team will pay him about 25 million dollars annually over the next five seasons. True, he has hit at least 40 home runs in each of the past four seasons, but his walks continue to decline and his strike outs remain steady around 180-190.
For some perspective, Joe Mauer will still earn less than Howard annually over the duration of his contract.
When Salisbury posts a real article, not just on his Twitter account, we'll provide the link.