Nick Markakis stays with Braves for $6 mil­lion deal

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL SPORTS - By Paul New­berry AP Sports Writer

AT­LANTA — All-Star out­fielder Nick Markakis took a sig­nif­i­cant pay cut to re­main with the At­lanta Braves, even com­ing off one of the best sea­sons of his ca­reer.

Markakis and the Braves agreed Tues­day to a deal that is worth a guar­an­teed $6 mil­lion and in­cludes a club op­tion for 2020.

The 35-year-old Markakis be­came a free agent after com­plet­ing a $44 mil­lion, four-year deal that he signed with the Braves for the 2015 sea­son when he left the Bal­ti­more Ori­oles.

In an­other sign of the dwin­dling de­mand for veteran free agents, Markakis gen­er­ated only mi­nor in­ter­est on the open mar­ket. His deal in­cludes a $4 mil­lion salary this sea­son, and At­lanta has a $6 mil­lion op­tion for 2020 with a $2 mil­lion buy­out.

Markakis said re­main­ing with the Braves was his pri­mary ob­jec­tive. He brushed off the big cut in salary.

“I’m not mad at all,” he said. “I play a kids’ game and get paid a lot of money. How can I be dis­ap­pointed in that?”

The Braves won the NL East ti­tle for their first play­off ap­pear­ance since 2013 and have one of base­ball’s most ex­cit­ing young ros­ters.

Markakis wants to help At­lanta take the next step.

“I came in dur­ing tough times,” he said. “Last year was pretty spe­cial to me, es­pe­cially at this point in my ca­reer.”

The agree­ment so­lid­i­fies the lineup for the de­fend­ing NL East cham­pi­ons, whose ma­jor ac­qui­si­tion of the off­sea­son was free agent third base­man Josh Don­ald­son. It also gives the Braves the fi­nan­cial flex­i­bil­ity to pur­sue other deals, some­thing they were in­sis­tent on in their ne­go­ti­a­tions with Markakis.

“Nick com­ing back on these terms al­lows us to po­ten­tially do other things,” gen­eral man­ager Alex An­thopou­los said. “This needed to come in at the right num­ber for us.”

A Ge­or­gia na­tive, Markakis is com­ing off the first Al­lS­tar ap­pear­ance of his 13-year ca­reer. He earned both Gold Glove and Sil­ver Slug­ger hon­ors last sea­son, hit­ting .297 with 14 homers and 93 RBIs while start­ing all 162 games in right field.

The Braves will look to cut back on Markakis’ play­ing time after he tailed off badly in the sec­ond half of the sea­son. He was bat­ting .323 with 10 homers and 61 RBIs at the All-Star break, but hit just .258 with four homers and 32 RBIs over the fi­nal 68 games.

/ AP-John Baze­more

Braves right fielder Nick Markakis (22) bat­ting against the Philadel­phia Phillies dur­ing a game in At­lanta. The Braves have agreed to one-year con­tract to bring back Markakis, a deal worth a guar­an­teed $6 mil­lion. Markakis’ deal, an­nounced Tues­day, in­cludes a $4 mil­lion salary this year and $6 mil­lion club op­tion for 2020 with a $2 mil­lion buy­out.

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