Atlanta Braves Nick Markakis Opts Out

Nick Markakis
ATLANTA, GA - JULY 18: Nick Markakis #22 of the Atlanta Braves bats during the game against the Washington Nationals at SunTrust Park on July 18, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Nick Markakis Opts Out

The Atlanta Braves will play the compressed 2020 season without veteran outfielder Nick Markakis. The 36-year-old will sit out the year over issues related to health and safety during the ongoing pandemic. Braves beat writer Mark Bowman announced the decision early Monday morning.

Markakis has been with the Braves since 2015. Although he is getting older, he continued to produce in 2019, hitting .285/.356/.420 with nine home runs. However, his 98 OPS+ was sharply down from the 116 he posted in 2018. His plate discipline is the biggest thing keeping him in the game, but he is also a serviceable outfielder if expectations are kept low.

Markakis first debuted with the Baltimore Orioles in 2006 after they drafted him in the first round of the 2003 Amateur Draft. The Cincinnati Reds tried to draft him in both 2001 and 2002, but he held off until he got the coveted first-round selection. Over 9,000 plate appearances, he has posted a career slash line of .288/.358/.420 with 188 home runs. Markakis has never been a power hitter, but his on-base ability is what teams love. He has also been a solid defender, winning three gold gloves.

What This Means for the Future

Markakis was not going to be one of Atlanta’s primary outfielders in 2020. The team already has Ronald Acuña Jr, Ender Inciarte, and the newly-signed Marcell Ozuna projected as starters. However, Markakis would have been a designated hitter option or a top bench-bat. His spot could now go to a youngster like Cristian Pache or Drew Waters. Or, Atlanta could load up with another pitcher to ease the burden on their arms.

Markakis is not the first player to opt-out, but he also won’t be the last. Several players, including Ian Desmond, David Price, and Felix Hernandez, will also sit this season out. More players could opt out in the coming days.

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