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Report: Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves Agree To Four-Year Deal

Credit: NBC Sports
Recap

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the Atlanta Braves have agreed to sign outfielder Nick Markakis to a four-year deal. Dollar figures are not confirmed, but Passan says that the two sides discussed a deal “in the neighborhood of $44 million.”

Markakis, who turned 31 last month, has spent his entire nine-season big-league career with the Baltimore Orioles up to this point. The team originally drafted him out of Young Harris College with the seventh overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft. A career .290 hitter, Markakis brings value as a left-handed hitting outfielder with a strong arm, solid glove and little to no injury history (he has only played less than 147 games once in his big league career).

Markakis, who had a 2.1 WAR last season, was not connected to any teams besides the Orioles for most of the offseason. With the Braves dealing Jayson Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals for starting pitcher Shelby Miller earlier this offseason, a spot opened up in the Atlanta outfield. There has also been speculation that the Braves might be interested in moving star outfielder Justin Upton this offseason, but at the same time it is very possible for him and Markakis to coexist in the lineup.

The Orioles turned down a $17.5 million option on Markakis earlier this offseason, so he is not tied to any draft pick compensation. Now that both Markakis and Nelson Cruz (Seattle Mariners) have signed elsewhere, the reigning AL East champions must look to rebuild their outfield in order to contend for another division title.

Our Take
Jeremy Losak
Editor in Chief

Take a look at what the Braves are doing. They flip Heyward, who only had one year of team control, for a young starting pitcher, filling a position of need, with multiple years of control. They already have a strong core established for the future in Simmons, Freeman, and Kimbrel. Look for Justin Upton to be the next piece to be traded, possibly during the Winter Meetings, for more pitching depth. Markakis is a veteran bat that the Braves now have for four seasons (the length of the deal is certainly questionable for the Braves), who plays an all-around average game.

I like this move for the Braves. They desperately need someone who can lead off, and get on base at a decent clip. Markakis fills both of these needs, and they got him at a lower price than many had him going for. Great move for Atlanta.

I projected Markakis to receive a 4 year, $48M deal, so this is a small bargain for the Braves. The two-time gold glover has never batted below .271 in his career and has double digit home run totals in each of his nine seasons in the majors. He will fill the void left by Jason Heyward in right field and also take the spot atop the lineup where he is more of an experienced hitter than Heyward.

John Hart, President of Baseball Operations, is quietly off to a good start in his new role with Atlanta. Heyward will be replaced by Markakis, Jordan Walden will be replaced by Jim Johnson, and Shelby Miller will fill a huge hole in the starting rotation. Tyrell Jenkins, an under the radar player in the trade with St. Louis, is viewed very highly by Hart. Justin Upton should be the next outfielder traded by Atlanta, presumably for more starting pitching help, as this is still a very huge hole.

I don’t understand this move at all for the Braves. Markakis has had a good career thus far, but the Braves aren’t paying him for what he has done; they are paying him for what he will do in his age 31-34 year old seasons. Markakis’ slugging percentage has dropped in recent years and it would surprising if he regained his early career form. Also, advanced defensive metrics do not favor his defense even though he won the gold glove award.

For the Braves, the start to the off-season has been curious. Trading Heyward without publicly making him available and having a bidding war was a head scratching move. Also, Jim Johnson appears to be washed up as his walk rate was nearly double his career average this past year.

It also seems that the Braves will trade Justin Upton in the near future. While John Hart has been active, it remains to be seen if these are the correct actions. The opinion here is that they are not. The Braves roster that he inherited won 96 games in 2013. Why not try to win and if it doesn’t work blow it up at the trade deadline? The Braves have put too much stock in the future and not enough in the present.

First, as an Oriole fan, I have to say Markakis was my favorite player during my youth, and it sucks to see him go, but he’s a Georgia kid that probably got overwhelmed by his hometown team, and I can’t help but respect that. And while his numbers never lived up to his lofty expectations, he was a very solid baseball player that was the quiet clubhouse leader. The Braves may have overpaid for a 30-year old outfielder, but they gained a captain-like presence and a steady ballplayer.

As for the Orioles, I’ll have something written up soon enough about what’s going on there.

SQuiz
Prior to 2015, how many seasons has Nick Markakis had an OBP above .400?
Created 12/3/14
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