Ryan Howard is willing to play almost for free for another shot at the major leagues.
The Atlanta Braves signed the slugger to a minor league deal, and he will make $750,000 if he earns a call to the major leagues.
That’s a far cry from the $25 million he earned in 2016, the final season of a five-year, $120 million deal he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. They’re also paying him $10 million to buy out the 2017 option on that deal.
But this is clearly about opportunity, not money. Howard will report to extended spring training before taking a minor league assignment at Class AAA Gwinnett (Ga.) when he is ready.
The Braves don't have much to lose. Howard could provide a power bat off bench and can DH in interleague games.
Howard, 37, spent 13 seasons with the Phillies where he earned National League Rookie of the Year (2005), NL MVP (2006) and League Championship Series MVP awards. The three-time All-Star slugged 382 career home runs, but endured a steady decline after suffering a blown Achilles tendon in the 2011 NL Division series.
Last season, he hit 25 home runs in just 362 plate appearances, but batted .196.
Howard often victimized the Braves during his Phillies career. His 52 career home runs against Atlanta are Howard's most against a single team.
The Braves play at Citizens Bank Park later this month, April 21-23. But Howard is more likely to square off against his former team in June when the Phillies travel to Atlanta for a four-game series (June 5-8).
Contributing: Meghan Montemurro