Philadelphia was open to trading several of its veteran starters throughout the course of the offseason, and its mindset has not yet changed. According to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince, the Phillies would be willing to eat up to $50 million of the $60 million Howard is owed over the next two years if he was traded.
General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters in December the Phillies would be better off without Howard, who posted a .223/.310/.380 batting line to complement 23 home runs and 95 RBIs in 153 games last season. If the Phillies are willing to cover most of Howard's salary, any team interested would only have to pay close to $10 million for two seasons of a first baseman who slugged .380 in 2014.
While the Phillies are open to covering up to $50 million, Howard also has a $10 million buyout for 2017. His $23 million club option could be picked up, however considering his age and declining offensive numbers, that may not prove to be realistic.
As Castrovince notes, adding Howard for $5 million a season may be logical considering the deal Kendrys Morales received. Although he batted .218 last season, Morales still was able to land a two-year, $17 million deal with the Mariners earlier this offseason.
Despite the fact the Phillies have been open to trading Howard, the club believes he is making strides at the plate this spring. According to Ryan Lawrence of Philly.com, Howard has been working on a new approach and batting stance at the plate since the start of camp.
After losing Cliff Lee, who may be out for the season but is hoping time off will heal an elbow injury, the Phillies may be convinced to attempt to raise Howard's trade value. Before he got injured, the club was also thought to be open to trading Lee as it prepares to get younger.
If the Phillies want to deal Howard, they will likely have to pay most of his remaining salary and include some form of a lower level prospect. But they may also need to demonstrate that trading for him will prove to be beneficial and makes sense.