The Phillies have a $70 million problem on their hands: Ryan Howard.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports the Phillies are looking to unload the aging first baseman before the trade deadline, and would even be willing to pick up the check on a large portion of that $70 million remaining on his contract.
The Phillies are currently 44-58, last in the NL East and a hopeless 11 games out of the wild card.
Howard, along with fellow veterans Chase Utley, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, could be on the trading block. But Howard, unlike those other vets, is struggling mightily. He's batting just .224 with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs. And he's struck out 118 times in 371 at-bats.
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And while he's been healthy all of 2014, Howard hasn't played a full season since 2011. He finished in the top 10 in NL MVP voting every year from 2006 to 2011, winning it in 2006.
Howard signed a five-year, $125 million contract before the 2012 season, with a team option for 2017 at $23 million or a buyout of $10 million. So Howard has at least $60 million guaranteed to him after this season, while the pro-rated amount remaining on 2014's $25 million salary would bring the tally to about $70 million.
There are few teams that could realistically eat that kind of salary, even if Howard was performing as well as he did a few years ago.
Howard was benched both Wednesday and Thursday against the Giants and could be used in a platoon due to his .209 average with just five homers against lefties.
But he could be desirable to an American League team looking for a designated hitter — providing the Phillies do pick up most of that $70 million.
Follow Metro national sports editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.