Atlanta Braves Re-sign Nick Markakis to One-year Deal
The 35-year old will now enter his sixth season with the Braves after coming over from the Baltimore Orioles. His newly minted one-year deal is worth $4 million, but with the Braves buying out his contract for $2 million, the 14-year vet will be taking home $6 million.
That is the exact same scenario given to veteran catcher Tyler Flowers, who returns as well. He too was inked to a one-year, $4 million deal with a $2 million buyout.
A Steady Hand
Markakis has been a huge presence in the Braves dugout ever since he stepped foot in an Atlanta uniform. Last season, despite a reduced role, Markakis hit .285/.356/.420 with nine homers and 62 RBI over 116 games played. He totaled the second-fewest strikeouts in a season of his career (59) and totaled 118 hits for the season. The veteran has also played in over 150 games in four out of the five seasons with the Braves, proving his durability.
With all that being said, there have been some concerning factors attached to Markakis. While his offensive numbers were above league average this season, the bulk of that production came against right-handed pitching. Across the 113 plate appearances against left-handed pitching, Markakis hit .245 while slugging just .343. All of that was far less productive than his mark of .298/.371/.446 across 356 appearances against righties.
The last few years have also seen Markakis slip across the second half of the season. The first half of 2019 went fairly well for the veteran, with a slash line of .286/.358/.441 and a .309 batting average on balls in play. However, that turned into .283/.350/.348 in the second half. What was more troublesome, though, was the dip from a 1.8 offensive WAR in the first half to a -2.2 offensive WAR across the second half.
Never the less, as a rather youthful Braves lineup grows up, it’s nice to have a steady veteran aiding them along. That seems to be a big factor as to why Atlanta brought him back, coupled with the fact that Atlanta fans across the country are behind him.
Interesting Financial Moves
On a side note to all of this, both contracts signed by Markakis and Flowers bring some curiosity into the picture. Both could have taken in more, especially given that the Braves are nowhere close to breaching the luxury tax line.
This seems to be just one piece in a bigger picture that might include budget constraints handed down by Liberty Media — the teams’ owner. Despite being nearly $50 million below the luxury tax threshold in 2019, the team seems to be treading on thin financial waters at the moment. That could be due to impending transactions or just a budget-conscious ownership group. We’ll have more clarity as the offseason moves forward, but for now, the saving grace is that Markakis will be a Brave next season.
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