Ryan Howard is Ryan Howard again.
But it's too late.
According to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, the squad doesn't expect to use it's one-time All-Star's recent hot play as trade bait heading toward August's waiver trade deadline. And they won't renew his monstrous contract.
Prior to Sunday's game against the Cardinals, Howard was hitting .394 in 33 at-bats this this month, with five home runs and 13 RBI. He had an ugly start to the year that saw him benched for prospect Tommy Joseph, and left many wondering why the Phillies didn't cut him outright.
"I know especially early in the year, it was a trying year for him," Phillies GM Matt Klentak told MLB.com. "To see the way that he has handled all of that, and continued to grind, continued to work hard and to earn the playing time and now to be performing as well as he is for the last month or so, it's a really good story. If this is in fact Ryan's last year in Philadelphia, he's helping to write a nice end to it."
Klentak's word choice seems to imply that he's not only going to finish the year in Philly, but that the team will decide to exercise the $10 million buyout clause in his contract (to save them from paying the full $25 million option for 2017).
"Until somebody is not in our uniform, I always expect they're going to be here the next day," Klentak said.
Howard was never the same All-Star slugger after tearing his Achilles in the team's 2011 NL playoff loss, but fans should enjoy their last chance to see the living legend, 36, while still wearing No. 6 in red pinstripes.