The Atlanta Braves and outfielder Nick Markakis have agreed to terms on a four-year, $44 million deal, as first reported by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez along with team officials reportedly met with Markakis as recently as Monday.
This has been an interesting offseason for the Braves, who traded away outfielder Jason Heyward to the Cardinals for two young pitchers. But these deals make sense. The Braves would only have had Heyward on the team for one more season before he got really expensive. Now they have Markakis, who is still a good option, playing the outfield for only $11 million per year (on average) and two young pitchers.
It still isn't obvious if the Braves think they can win in the National League East or not. They are shopping Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, and Evan Gattis, according to reports, but yet go out and sign a 31-year-old outfielder in Markakis to a four-year contract. If the Braves can get major leaguers in exchange for either Upton and Gattis, then maybe a trade of them would still allow them to contend.
The Georgia native Markakis will get to head home and play for the Braves. Markakis only has played six games at Turner Field, considering the fact that he has played in the American League his entire career, but has a .615/.630/.808 line there with 21 total bases in 27 plate appearances. While that is an extremely small sample size, it could mean Markakis is on the brink of a big year.
Last season, the Orioles' 2003 1st round pick hit .276/.342/.386 with 14 homers and 50 runs batted in over 710 plate appearances. His OPS, .729, was seven percent better than league-average. Markakis is a good defender and, as it currently stands, will likely play right field for the Braves.
Markakis has spent his entire career with the Orioles. He had been their currently longest-tenured player and was expected to re-sign with them early in the offseason, with a deal being reportedly close. Apparently things fell through and Markakis and Baltimore could never make an agreement.
Markakis is a lifetime .290/.358/.435 hitter, while posting a 112 wRC+. He has added 22.6 fWAR to the Orioles over his nine year career with them (average 2.5 fWAR per year). The Orioles will need to beef up their outfield corps now. They lost both Markakis and Nelson Cruz, who signed with the Seattle Mariners. They may try to acquire Justin Upton or attempt to sign Melky Cabrera.
All in all, Nick Markakis is headed home. He heads back to his home state of Georgia as he signed with the Atlanta Braves.
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