Phillies alum Ryan Howard to potentially join ESPN
Longtime Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is in talks to join ESPN as part of a larger shakeup by the organization’s baseball coverage.
Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that longtime Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is in talks to join ESPN as an analyst. ESPN is revitalizing its baseball coverage, including a possible reincarnation of the show “Baseball Tonight”.
Howard announced his retirement in September. He last played in the majors in 2016 in Philadelphia. He played in the minors with the Braves and Rockies but never found his way back to the majors. He was not playing at all this year before announcing his retirement.
Howard is not the only big name who could be joining ESPN. They already pried away Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports to serve as their MLB version of NFL insider Adam Schefter. Marchand said they may still look to recruit another analyst or two. ESPN also tried to recruit Joe Maddon and David Wright for their playoff coverage, albeit unsuccessfully.
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The new version of “Baseball Tonight” could be taking over for “Intentional Talk”, which ESPN has been borrowing from the MLB Network. Their contract for the show expires in April, and they may be looking for an in-house replacement. This new show could take over “Intentional Talk”‘s time slot on ESPN2.
“Baseball Tonight” was cut last year when ex-ESPN president John Skipper allowed MLB Network to take over baseball coverage during the company’s large amount of layoffs. Many of the reporters and analysts they laid off now write for the rapidly-growing The Athletic.
Howard would join other former players like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Eduardo Perez and David Ross in ESPN’s group of MLB analysts. Fellow former Phillie Jimmy Rollins has worked as a commentator for FS1.
As a whole, new president Jimmy Pitaro is looking to boost ESPN’s MLB coverage. It has been on the decline after Skipper’s layoffs and retooling of the network, but Pitaro is looking to change things.