Though some complained about him being overpaid during his last contract, Nick Markakis definitely lived up to the value of the deal he got from the Atlanta Braves. He was a consummate professional who stepped up when the Braves finally became contenders. He was an All-Star for the first time in 2018. However, it appears the team does not plan on offering him a qualifying offer and tying any draft compensation to him according to Jon Heyman.
The Braves will likely evaluate all their options in the outfield before making an offer to him. If they do, expect it to be well below the $17 million he would have been slotted to make. Here’s why:
The Braves have finally freed up some money this offseason, and while Markakis has been outstanding and the team may want him back, they know they need to go get a true cleanup hitter to protect Freddie Freeman in the lineup. The three top outfield option in free agency are Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock, and Michael Brantley. Harper would bring the star power (and require a huge check), but it is easy to see how the Pollock and Brantley could be natural fits in the Atlanta Braves lineup. However, they are not “cleanup hitters” per se.
The Braves will likely pursue these few options before coming back around to Markakis and offering him a more team friendly deal. This is a much stronger possibility after he fizzled out in the second half of the season. Another possibility is that the Braves use their surplus of young arms nearing the majors to acquire an outfield bat via trade.
One thing is for sure: Atlanta loves you Nick. We wish you the best, but no one should be ruling out a return just yet.