The Colorado Rockies have signed free agent first baseman Ryan Howard to a minor-league contract, the team announced on Saturday. Howard was on a minor-league deal with the Atlanta Braves earlier this season, but he never made it to the major league roster.
Howard last appeared in the big leagues last season as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. His enormous contract had run its course and the Phillies paid his $10 million buyout to allow him to become a free agent after he batted .196 in 2016 with 25 home runs.
At Triple-A Gwinnett in the Braves’ organization earlier this year, Howard went just 7-for-38 (.184) at the plate over 11 games. He hit one home run and drove in five runs, but the 37-year-old never earned a call-up.
His entire major league career has come as a member of the Phillies, with whom he won the National League Rookie of the Year in 2005 and MVP in 2006. During a four-year stretch from 2006-09, he clubbed at least 45 home runs and drove in more than 135 runs each year. In three of those seasons, he led all of baseball in RBIs.
Howard’s numbers began to dip back in 2012 following an Achilles injury, and he never regained his previous form through the remainder of his long-term deal in Philadelphia. He has clubbed 382 home runs over his 13-year career, driving in nearly 1,200 runs.
Now, he joins a Rockies team on the precipice of returning to the postseason. The team enters play on Saturday night owning the top spot in the NL Wild Card race, which would give them a one-game playoff with the winner moving on to the NLDS.