Baltimore Orioles: How about Ryan Howard?

Perhaps you saw in the end of my column yesterday that I teased the idea of the Baltimore Orioles making a deal with Philadelphia for someone other than Cole Hamels. With all of his struggles of late, the idea of replacing Chris Davis at first base has come up of course. This is not to say that the O’s have any intention of doing that, nor does it mean that they should. But the topic’s been a hot one around town all week.

And in fairness, Davis has shown signs of life this week for sure. But…what would Birdland think of the Orioles trading for Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard? First off, Howard is under team control through the end of next season. That would be an aspect that’s attractive to any prospective suitor for Philadelphia. At 35, he’s on the back end of his career for sure, and he struggled over the course of the past few years. So why would the Birds want him? Isn’t he just an older Chris Davis? 

He hit .219 in 2012, and .223 in 2014; so yes he’s struggled at times. However right

Courtesy of Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

now his average is over .250, with an OBP nearing .300 and ten home runs. In theory that’s better production than Davis is giving the Orioles right now. Defensively, he’s fielding .997 at first base – which is right on par with Davis. (People can say what they wish about Chris Davis at the plate, but he’s held his end of the bargain in the field.)

Obviously the question is what would the O’s have to give up to get Howard. And I suspect that’s where the deal would get derailed. Philadelphia going to want some prospect presumably in return, and that’s something the Orioles probably aren’t in a position to give. They could offer Davis straight up, but I’m not sure Philadelphia would take that. And that’s how trades end up getting nixed, regardless of which party walks away. 

Mind you, I don’t foresee any of this happening. However it might serve two purposes. As I said above, Howard is under team control for the remainder of this year as well as next. Does one not think that might not be enough time to either fully groom Christian Walker in the minors to be ready to take over first base, or to figure out if he’s going to be “the guy?” And even if they wanted to continue working with Walker in that sense, Howard could easily DH in September if Walker were to come up. Ideas folks…just ideas! 

My personal opinion is that Davis is stablizing after going through a bad period for whatever reason. And that happens with players sometimes. Whether or not he remains in Baltimore after this year is something we don’t yet know. But time will tell – and the hope of Orioles fans is that Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter have a plan in place. And one that includes several back up plans at that.

[subsribe]