Ryan Howard not ready to retire, signs with Braves

The former NL MVP will back up Freddie Freeman in Atlanta after a stint in the minors.

How badly did Ryan Howard want to continue playing in the majors? So much so that the 37-year-old slugger agreed to a minor league deal Thursday with a Braves team that, on the surface, doesn't appear to have much use for him.

Atlanta has one of the most stable first-base situations in the majors with Freddie Freeman entrenched as the starter, and unlike an American League team cannot offer Howard regular at-bats as a designated hitter.

But the offer of employment apparently was good enough for Howard, who will report to extended spring training next week, then move up to Triple-A before what figures to be a quick promotion to the majors.

Howard wrapped up 13 years with the Phillies last season on a down note, hitting .196/.257/.453 in 112 games. He has hit over .230 and had a positive WAR only once in the last five seasons.

While Howard is far removed from his glory days as a National League MVP (2006) and World Series champion (2008), the Braves apparently see him as a lefty power bat off the bench and an insurance policy for Freemanwho can DH in games in American League parks.


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