Former Baltimore Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis agreed to a four-year, $44 million deal with his hometown team, the Atlanta Braves, on Dec. 3.
Former Baltimore Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis agreed to a four-year deal with the Atlanta Braves on Dec. 3.
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According to MLB.com's Mark Bowman, the deal is worth $44 million, pending a physical. Markakis' agreement with Atlanta comes on the heels of his reunion with former Orioles teammate and friend, closer Jim Johnson, who signed with the Braves on Wednesday afternoon.
Bowman says Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and assistant general manager John Coppolella were in Baltimore on Dec. 1 to meet Markakis and his agent, Jamie Murphy, over dinner. Back then, both Gonzalez and Coppolella felt Markakis could be of tremendous help to the Braves' cause.
With Markakis on board, speculation about trading either left fielder Justin Upton or catcher Evan Gattis intensified, per Bowman. For now, Markakis will take Justin Heyward's place in right field for Atlanta. With the former's .274 batting average and .399 on-base percentage with the Orioles last season, he stands a big chance of being the leadoff hitter the Braves are desperately seeking.
Atlanta traded Heyward, and relief pitcher Jordan Walden to the St. Louis Cardinals for Shelby Miller and a minor-league prospect on Nov. 17, per USA TODAY Sports.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien notes the Braves had been planning to move Gattis to left field in 2015. O'Brien also says trading Justin Upton is the likelier possibility because he has one year left on his deal while Gattis is signed through the 2018 MLB season.
As far as Markakis is concerned, he does not have Heyward's defense nor does he possess the speed and power that his predecessor does, but is a more durable player who comes at a cheaper price for the Braves. For the record, the 31-year-old Markakis has played in at least 155 games in seven of his past eight MLB seasons, per O'Brien.
Markakis became a free agent after Baltimore "declined their half of the $17.5 million mutual option for the 2015 season" on his contract. The Orioles paid him a $2 million buyout instead.
Now, he's back in his hometown of Atlanta. He was born in Glen Cove, New York but he and his family moved to Woodstock, Georgia during his formative years. He attended Woodstock High School and Young Harris College in Young Harris, Ga.
Among his other pursuers were the defending World Series champions San Francisco Giants and the Toronto Blue Jays, per O'Brien.
Markakis ends his nine-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles with 1,547 hits, 141 home runs and 658 RBIs on a .290 batting average in 1,365 career regular-season games, per ESPN stats.
In other team news, the Braves signed Johnson to a one-year, $1.6 million contract on Wednesday. He can earn up to $900,000 more in performance-based incentives. The team hopes Johnson would be the closer he was in 2012, when he recorded a league-leading 51 saves. He and Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel led all closers with 50 saves a year later, notes O'Brien in a separate update.
Johnson's ERA ballooned to 7.09 in 54 games with the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers in 2014. The former eventually released him on Aug. 1 after he posted a 6.92 ERA and allowed 40 hits in 60 innings.
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