With less than a month before the Atlanta Braves head into Spring Training they still had a gaping hole in Right Field. Yes, we all know that the bigger names are still available in Free Agency, and we know names that have been rumored in trade, but what we don’t know is what the asking price is for both the free agents and any name available in trade. When I met with Alex Anthopoulos on Saturday I asked him about free agency and trading and he said that committing that much money to one player in free agency is difficult because he has to weigh the back end money of a contract just as much as the front end and in a long term deal production tends to decline towards the back end. As far as trading he said that when you give up prospects such as the Braves are loaded with you almost have to be certain that the player you are trading for has multiple years of team control or has shown an willingness to want to remain with the team. You definitely don’t want to hinder the growth of the Braves by dealing away too much of the future for a player that might only remain with the team for one or two years. One guy that was available and was willing to take a short term, team friendly deal was a familiar face in Nick Markakis. Markakis last year was an National League All-Star and Gold Glover and played in all 162 games while batting .297 with 14 HR and 93 RBI’s. While not the splash name that the Braves fandom was hoping to hear signed, Markakis does prove to be a great insurance policy in case the Braves are to strike out on the trade market or in free agency. At $6 million dollars ($4 Million Contract, $2 Million Signing) and a team option for 2020 Nick Markakis was signed at an absolute bargain price. Expected to sign a multi-year contract in the $13-$16 Million dollar range this offseason Markakis took less to remain with the Braves while still offering the team financial wiggle room to still make more free agency moves if needed. One thing I have been reading throughout Social Media is the complaint of Markakis struggling down the stretch drive last year. Well so did Ozzie Albies and I don’t think we would be hearing the outrage from fans if Ozzie was a free agent and we re-signed him. The addition of Josh Donaldson to provide power will allow for Markakis to slide in the number 5 slot in the lineup possibly and play to his strengths of doubles and singles instead of the big bat needed in the clean up slot. We as the fans need to let Alex Anthopoulos finish what he envisions this team to be and also need to realize that the signing of Nick Markakis makes perfect sense.
Bob Lancaster @bowlinbob