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Howard, Phils agree on 3-year contract

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Ryan Howard just wanted to concentrate on baseball this spring. No squabbles over his contract. No daily questions about his future.

The big slugger got his wish -- and a hefty raise, too.

Howard and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to a $54 million, three-year contract on Sunday, avoiding a potentially contentious arbitration hearing.

The 2006 NL MVP will earn $15 million this season, $19 million next year and $20 million in 2011.

"The things that have happened prior with Ryan, it was really nothing adversarial, although I know with some people it was depicted that way," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We just agreed to disagree. It didn't make us love Ryan any less, and it didn't make Ryan love us any less."

Howard led the majors with 48 homers and 146 RBIs last season while helping the Phillies win their first World Series title since 1980.

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