On December 3rd, the Braves signed longtime Baltimore Oriole Nick Markakis to a four-year, $44 million contract. This signing came on the same day as the signing of his former teammate, Jim Johnson. The Braves signed Markakis to fill the void left in right field after trading away Jason Heyward. While Heyward will be missed, I believe that Markakis is an upgrade. He is a much more consistent hitter than Heyward and owns a .290 lifetime average over 9 seasons. Last year against righties, Markakis hit .274 and Heyward hit .304. However, against lefties Markakis hit .280 and Heyward struggled to a .169 average. Markakis is a two-time Gold Glove winner as well, as recently as this past season. With this signing, John Hart replicated the production of Jason Heyward for half the price of what he would cost on the open market. Markakis is a local kid, though he actually did not grow up as an Atlanta Braves fan. He played his college ball at Young Harris College. He underwent neck surgery this offseason to fix a herniated disk, but should be 100% by opening day. Many have scrutinized this deal but I believe that Markakis for $11 million a year in this market really isn’t bad. Baltimore balked at giving Markakis four years, and that’s a big reason why he came to Atlanta. Markakis will become a fan favorite in Atlanta as he was in Baltimore once the fans get to see him play. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Markakis has four more prime years left in him at 31 with his style of play. By year 3 of this contract I believe that Atlanta will have a contending team and that Markakis will be a big part of that. Markakis wore number 21 in Baltimore, but will change to 22 in Atlanta. Number 21 has been retired by the Braves (Warren Spahn).
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