Baltimore Orioles: Is Markakis part of the future?


Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Baltimore Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis (21) at bat against the Detroit Tigers during game three of the 2014 ALDS baseball playoff game at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been an interesting start to the MLB offseason. Several teams and marque players have been involved in moves, and even more have been involved in an overabundance of rumors and speculation, as is the usual. However, here in Baltimore the news and rumors have been minor at best, and at worst painstakingly boring in comparison to the rest of the league.

The most consistent source of news, or lack of, is the team’s ongoing efforts to resign longest-tenured Oriole, Nick Markakis. The consensus seems to be that the Orioles management wants Markakis back next season, and inevitably manning right-field for the considerable future. However, the Orioles determination to maintain Markakis’ services may be slightly less than they have advertised publically.

It obvious that seeing the long-time Orioles wearing a different uniform next season would bring about some level of sadness for Birdland. However, it may be a strategy that could benefit the Orioles. There is no doubt that Markakis has been a productive player during his tenure for the Orioles. This past season he provided stability at the top of the lineup when the Orioles lacked a true lead-off hitter, and received another gold glove for his stellar defensive play.

However, it is also important to note his progressive decline in production the last few years. Last season his OBP, SLG and BA were all the second worst for a season in his career. His worst season was the year before in 2013. Also, many Orioles fans reserved themselves to the fact that Markakis would never be the 30 homer threat many projected early in his career. However, Markakis hasn’t hit more than 15 since 2009, and, with his BA and OBP seemingly in decline, his lack of power becomes an even more glaring flaw.

Markakis may have several productive years left, but it’s clear that his numbers may not improve and at age 31 they may quickly continue to drop. How many years and how much money the Orioles would be willing to offer to an aging outfielder, who has hit only .274 with 24 homeruns over the last two seasons combined, is difficult to determine.

Another important factor is the Orioles current roster. Presently, the Orioles have an exceptionally talented starting lineup with many positions locked up by all-star level players. Subsequently, right-field may be one of the only positions available to upgrade. At the moment, there may not be an abundance of available players, especially ones that may be an upgrade over Markakis. However, as the offseason unfolds there are sure to be a flurry of names passed around.

Obviously, the Orioles publically will continue to express their desire to see Markakis in an Orioles’ jersey on opening day. However, privately the Orioles may be waiting for the market to open further before they commit to the longtime Oriole.