Ryan Howard is moving on from ESPN after just one year.
Howard, the former Phillies slugger and World Series champ turned baseball analyst, is walking away from his multi-year contract at ESPN to focus on his business endeavors, which include his sports investment firm SeventySix Capital. According to sources at ESPN, Howard’s departure is amicable.
“We appreciate his contributions to ESPN’s baseball coverage the past year,” an ESPN spokesperson said in a statement. Howard did not respond to a request for comment.
Howard offered analysis across a host of ESPN properties last season, including Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter. He last appeared on the network to discuss the World Series in October. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand was first to report that Howard was leaving ESPN.
It’s somewhat surprising that Howard would walk away from ESPN, considering the three-time All-Star had set his sights on becoming a broadcaster long before he became an MLB star. Not only did Howard major in mass media and communication at Missouri State University, he became a fan of broadcasting growing up in St. Louis, where he would watch Cardinals games called by Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck, the late father of Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck.
But walking away from ESPN hasn’t stopped Howard from talking baseball. Last week, at MLB’s winter meetings, Howard said Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins was “out of his element” during the three-month slump the first baseman suffered in the latter half of last season.
“I think he’s a guy who’s going to put it all in the rearview mirror and look to go out this year and do what he’s done,” Howard said. “I think, too, having a guy like [new manager] Joe Girardi and the coaches he’s bringing in for his staff will kind of help him to his the reset button. That’s the fun thing about it. Last year was last year. You get a fresh start and get the opportunity to right the ship.”
Meanwhile, ESPN has re-signed veteran baseball broadcasters Eduardo Perez and Tim Kurkjian. The network is also reportedly interested in signing former Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson, if the 38-year-old can’t find a team to play for next season.
But don’t expect any significant changes to ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth, which will likely see the return of Matt Vasgersian, Jessica Mendoza, and Alex Rodriguez. That gives A-Rod plenty of time to learn it’s called a cheesesteak, not a “cheese sandwich.”