Earlier this offseason it seemed inevitable that Nick Markakis would re-sign with Baltimore. The 31-year-old right fielder has provided the Orioles consistent production throughout his previous contract, is seen as a fan favorite and is currently the team’s longest tenured player. Even though the Orioles declined their side of a $17.5 million mutual option last month, the two sides were said to be deep in negotiations over a four-year deal estimated to pay Markakis about $10 million-$12 million annually.
But just days after Baltimore lost one of its biggest bats to Seattle, reports are indicating that the Orioles could be in danger of losing another piece of last year’s AL East championship squad. On Monday night, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported that multiples sources have told him the team looks to have less than a 50-50 chance to retain its right fielder.
With talks between Markakis and the Orioles hitting a snag, the Braves, Blue Jays, and Giants have all shown interest in signing the outfielder, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Atlanta could be an especially appealing destination for Markakis, who went to both high school and college in Georgia, and the Braves sent assistant GM John Coppolella, manager Fredi Gonzalez and other team representatives to Maryland on Monday to have dinner with the free agent outfielder. With rumors swirling about the Braves shipping either Evan Gattis or Justin Upton out of Atlanta before the season starts, signing Markakis would make it easier to pull the trigger on such a trade.
Markakis would also be a sensible fit for Toronto. Alex Anthopolous has been unafraid to make a splash this offseason, but the Blue Jays still have glaring holes at second base and left field. Signing Markakis would patch up the latter and add balance to a heavily right-handed lineup.
After a breakout year at the plate during his age-24 season, Markakis has been a solid, unspectacular player the past six years. He had an outlying poor defensive season by FRAA the next year and arguably his worst season at the dish in 2013, but Markakis has basically been a slightly above-average bat and a scratch defender every other season since 2008. Preliminary PECOTA projections forecast more of the same for Markakis next season.
But, Connolly wrote, talk from within the Baltimore organization is that negotiations have fallen through because the club no longer feels comfortable with a four-year deal. Markakis hasn’t lived up to the expectations that his 2008 season brought, but there’s definite value in the player he’s become during his late 20s. However, a four-year deal in the range that he is reportedly asking for leaves little room for upside; a team would be banking on him being the player he was during his peak physical years well into his 30s.
Baltimore might not be willing to commit that much to their homegrown right fielder, but Orioles GM Dan Duquette did indicate that the team is still very much in the mix for Markakis.
Rockies trying to shop Wilin Rosario
Wilin Rosario’s rookie campaign in 2012 provided a glimpse of the tools that had scouts raving about him as a top catching prospect while he was coming up through the Rockies system. The Dominican catcher lacked a disciplined approach at the plate but launched 28 home runs and showed off his plus arm by throwing out basestealers at a rate above the league average. Despite a promising first season at the plate, some within the organization made it clear that he had to clean up his act behind it.
Rosario has continued to be a poor receiver since his first season, and his propensity of letting pitches get to the backstop is getting worrisome. He cost the Rockies over six runs just on passed balls and wild pitches last season and his overall defensive struggles have led to the Rockies to place him on the trade market.
Sources: #Rockies trying to move Rosario. Poor defensive catcher, better fit for AL. Rox thought about playing him in RF last season.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 3, 2014
Rosario is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $3.6 million in his first crack at arbitration this winter and his favorable power numbers could make his future arbitration figures pricy for the Rockies given his defensive liability. Moving Rosario to either a corner infield or outfield spot is an intriguing idea but there doesn’t appear to be much room for it to be a permanent project when Nolan Arenado, Justin Morneau, Carlos Gonzalez and Corey Dickerson are all healthy. Moreover, the previous brief stints at first base throughout his career haven’t been too promising.
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